Environmental and Occupational Exposure to Chemical Agents and Health Challenges

A special issue of Toxics (ISSN 2305-6304). This special issue belongs to the section "Exposome Analysis and Risk Assessment".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2024) | Viewed by 9214

Special Issue Editor

Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde de Lisboa—Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, Departamento das Ciências do Diagnóstico, Terapêutica e Saúde Pública, Av. D. João II, Lote 4.69.01, 1990-096 Lisboa, Portugal
Interests: human biomonitoring; genetic toxicology; chemical mixtures; risk assessment; occupational health; in vitro
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Human beings live in constant contact with chemical agents—mainly through environmental exposure—which are derived from the occupational setting. Environmental exposure is ubiquitous, originating from air, water, and soil. While some chemicals are short-lived in the environment and may elicit no harmful effects in humans, other chemicals bioaccumulate or persist for a long time in the environment or the human body due to frequent exposure. However, environmental exposure also includes diet, lifestyle, and hobbies, and exposure to other substances such as drugs, food additives, pesticides, and nanomaterials, among other daily products, which are significant areas of research. Occupational exposure concerns the potentially harmful exposure to hazardous chemicals in the workplace; however, more specifically, it involves permanent and substantial contact with the determined substances. Possible health effects can arise from these types of exposure, which can be measured and prevented by biomonitoring, and the outcome should be integrated to ensure better regulatory decision making. With that objective and on behalf of this study, translation research should be conducted by using in vitro studies with exposures from real context scenarios adding to the body of knowledge and providing a better understanding of human biomonitoring outcomes, mainly in the chemical mixtures effects assessment.

The expectation is that the results taken from these studies can add data and integrated information to encourage national and international bodies to make decisions such as setting allowable concentrations for a wide range of substances from environmental and occupational exposures, with particular attention paid to newly identified chemical mixtures and agents, which should be swiftly regulated.

Original research articles and review articles on these topics are encouraged to be submitted and we look forward to receiving your contributions.

Prof. Dr. Carina Ladeira 
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • environmental exposure
  • occupational exposure
  • chemical agents
  • endocrine disruptors
  • exposome
  • chemical mixtures
  • regulatory toxicology
  • preventive healthcare
  • biomarkers
  • epigenetic toxicology
  • adverse outcome pathway (AOP)
  • new approach methodology (NAM)
  • chemical monitoring and emerging pollutants

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 1782 KiB  
Article
Analysis of Mercury in Aquifers in Gold Mining Areas in the Ecuadorian Amazon and Its Associated Risk for Human Health
Toxics 2024, 12(2), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics12020162 - 19 Feb 2024
Viewed by 709
Abstract
Gold mining activity is a source of supply in many areas of the world, and especially in developing countries, it is practiced illegally and by applying unsafe techniques. Particularly in Ecuador, artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is widespread, and it is based [...] Read more.
Gold mining activity is a source of supply in many areas of the world, and especially in developing countries, it is practiced illegally and by applying unsafe techniques. Particularly in Ecuador, artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is widespread, and it is based on the use of toxic substances, such as mercury (Hg), in gold recovery. Hg is a heavy metal that is water-insoluble, which, once mobilized, poses a threat to both the environment and human health. This study analyzes Hg concentrations in the six provinces of Napo, Sucumbíos, Orellana, Pastaza, Morona Santiago, and Zamora Chinchipe of the Ecuadorian Amazon region to conduct a human health risk assessment. Significant differences in Hg levels were found between provinces, but concentrations were below MPL imposed by Ecuadorian regulations everywhere. Nevertheless, a worrisome picture emerges, especially with regard to the most vulnerable receptors represented by the child population. There are multiple factors of incidence that may affect the possible future development of the phenomenon, and with reference to the social, economic, and environmental context of the region, it can be concluded that it may be appropriate to plan further investigation to arrive at a more comprehensive assessment. The results of this study can be used by decision makers to plan further investigation and to implement monitoring networks, risk mitigation strategies, and groundwater protection measures. Full article
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16 pages, 4711 KiB  
Article
K252a Prevents Microglial Activation Induced by Anoxic Stimulation of Carotid Bodies in Rats
Toxics 2023, 11(10), 871; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics11100871 - 20 Oct 2023
Viewed by 922
Abstract
Inducing carotid body anoxia through the administration of cyanide can result in oxygen deprivation. The lack of oxygen activates cellular responses in specific regions of the central nervous system, including the Nucleus Tractus Solitarius, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala, which are regulated by afferent [...] Read more.
Inducing carotid body anoxia through the administration of cyanide can result in oxygen deprivation. The lack of oxygen activates cellular responses in specific regions of the central nervous system, including the Nucleus Tractus Solitarius, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala, which are regulated by afferent pathways from chemosensitive receptors. These receptors are modulated by the brain-derived neurotrophic factor receptor TrkB. Oxygen deprivation can cause neuroinflammation in the brain regions that are activated by the afferent pathways from the chemosensitive carotid body. To investigate how microglia, a type of immune cell in the brain, respond to an anoxic environment resulting from the administration of NaCN, we studied the effects of blocking the TrkB receptor on this cell-type response. Male Wistar rats were anesthetized, and a dose of NaCN was injected into their carotid sinus to induce anoxia. Prior to the anoxic stimulus, the rats were given an intracerebroventricular (icv) infusion of either K252a, a TrkB receptor inhibitor, BDNF, or an artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF). After the anoxic stimulus, the rats were perfused with paraformaldehyde, and their brains were processed for microglia immunohistochemistry. The results indicated that the anoxic stimulation caused an increase in the number of reactive microglial cells in the hypothalamic arcuate, basolateral amygdala, and dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. However, the infusion of the K252a TrkB receptor inhibitor prevented microglial activation in these regions. Full article
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11 pages, 725 KiB  
Article
The Hematological and Biochemical Effects from Pesticide Exposure on Thai Vegetable Farmers
Toxics 2023, 11(8), 707; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics11080707 - 17 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1099
Abstract
Pesticide-related health concerns are a global public health issue. Few studies in Thailand have explored the hematological and biochemical effects of occupational pesticide exposure. The goal of this study was to investigate the effects of pesticides on the hematology, hepatic, and renal function [...] Read more.
Pesticide-related health concerns are a global public health issue. Few studies in Thailand have explored the hematological and biochemical effects of occupational pesticide exposure. The goal of this study was to investigate the effects of pesticides on the hematology, hepatic, and renal function of Thai vegetable farmers. A cross-sectional study was carried out in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. A total of 124 apparently healthy vegetable farmers were interviewed about their lifetime exposure to agricultural pesticides. Blood samples were collected via venipuncture to be tested for complete blood count (CBC), liver function, and kidney function. Approximately 46% of the farmers were pesticide users who reported a history of pesticide use for their crops, while 54% were non-pesticide users. In the male farmers, the activities of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) were significantly higher in the pesticide users compared to the non-pesticide users, while the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), hematocrit (HCT), and red blood cells (RBC) were significantly lower (p < 0.05). In the females, the pesticide users had significantly higher levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and MCHC than the non-pesticide users (p < 0.05). Pesticide use among Thai vegetable farmers may cause hematological alterations and increase the risk of hepatic and renal dysfunction. Some hematological and biochemical parameters may be used for monitoring to protect them from the adverse health effects of occupational exposure to pesticides. Full article
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11 pages, 1143 KiB  
Article
Kinetics of Excretion of the Perfluoroalkyl Surfactant cC6O4 in Humans
Toxics 2023, 11(3), 284; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics11030284 - 20 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1541
Abstract
cC6O4 is a new-generation perfluoroalkyl surfactant used in the chemical industry for the synthesis of perfluoroalkyl polymers. It was introduced as a less biopersistent substitute of traditional perfluoroalkyl surfactants such as PFOA, but its kinetics in humans was never investigated. [...] Read more.
cC6O4 is a new-generation perfluoroalkyl surfactant used in the chemical industry for the synthesis of perfluoroalkyl polymers. It was introduced as a less biopersistent substitute of traditional perfluoroalkyl surfactants such as PFOA, but its kinetics in humans was never investigated. This work is aimed to investigate the kinetics of elimination of cC6O4 in exposed workers. Eighteen male individuals occupationally exposed to cC6O4 in the production of fluoropolymers volunteered for the study. Blood and urine samples were collected from the end of a work-shift for the following 5 days off work. Serum and urinary cC6O4 were measured by LC-MS/MS. Seventy-two samples with serum cC6O4 ranging from 0.38 to 11.29 µg/L were obtained; mean levels were 3.07, 2.82, 2.67 and 2.01 µg/L at times 0, 18, 42 and 114 h. Two hundred and fifty-four urine samples with cC6O4 ranging from 0.19 to 5.92 µg/L were obtained. A random-intercept multiple regression model was applied to serum data and a half-life of 184 (95% CI 162–213) h for a first-order kinetics elimination was calculated; a mean distribution volume of 80 mL/kg was also estimated. Pearson’s correlation between ln-transformed serum and daily urine concentrations was good, with r ranging from 0.802 to 0.838. The amount of cC6O4 excreted daily in urine was about 20% of the amount present in serum. The study allowed calculating a half-life for cC6O4 in blood of about 8 days in humans, supporting its much shorter biopersistence in comparison with legacy PFAS. The good correlation between urine and serum cC6O4 suggests urine as a possible non-invasive matrix for biomonitoring. The amount of cC6O4 excreted daily in urine suggests urine as the sole elimination route. Full article
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11 pages, 743 KiB  
Article
Using Urinary Biomarkers to Estimate the Benzene Exposure Levels in Individuals Exposed to Benzene
Toxics 2022, 10(11), 636; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics10110636 - 23 Oct 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1500
Abstract
Urinary benzene metabolites trans, trans-muconic acid (t, t-MA), and S-phenyl mercapturic acid (S-PMA) are often used as biomarkers of internal exposure to benzene. However, there are few reports on using urinary benzene metabolites to estimate airborne benzene concentrations in individuals exposed [...] Read more.
Urinary benzene metabolites trans, trans-muconic acid (t, t-MA), and S-phenyl mercapturic acid (S-PMA) are often used as biomarkers of internal exposure to benzene. However, there are few reports on using urinary benzene metabolites to estimate airborne benzene concentrations in individuals exposed to benzene. In this study, t, t-MA, and S-PMA were analyzed by UPLC-MS/MS, and a simple pharmacokinetic model was used to calculate the daily intake (DI) of benzene based on the levels of urinary t, t-MA, and S-PMA in occupational individuals. The back-calculated airborne benzene levels (BCABL) were obtained from the DI of benzene. Among the exposed subjects (n = 84), the median BCABL (3.67 mg/m3) based on t, t-MA was very close to the median level of measured airborne benzene (3.27 mg/m3, p = 0.171), and there was no effect of smoking or dietary habits on t, t-MA-based BCABL. In the control subjects (n = 49), the levels of measured airborne benzene were all below the quantitation limit (0.024 mg/m3), and the BCABL (0.002–0.25 mg/m3) calculated by S-PMA was close to this background level. Our study suggests that the t, t-MA-based BCABL can reflect the actual airborne benzene level in a range of 1.10–86.91 mg/m3 and that the S-PMA-based BCABL is more reliable for non-professional benzene exposure. Full article
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Review

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17 pages, 3411 KiB  
Review
Hand Sanitizer Gels: Classification, Challenges, and the Future of Multipurpose Hand Hygiene Products
Toxics 2023, 11(8), 687; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxics11080687 - 10 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2495
Abstract
Hand hygiene is a crucial measure in the prevention and control of infections, and there is a growing awareness among individuals who are making a conscious effort to maintain hand cleanliness. With the advent of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, the demand for hand hygiene [...] Read more.
Hand hygiene is a crucial measure in the prevention and control of infections, and there is a growing awareness among individuals who are making a conscious effort to maintain hand cleanliness. With the advent of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, the demand for hand hygiene products has also gradually shifted towards those with antimicrobial properties. Among these products, hand sanitizer gels (HSGs) have gained considerable popularity as an efficient method of hand cleaning, due to their rapid drying and sustained antimicrobial efficacy. Concurrently, there has been a growing interest in novel HSGs that offer additional functions such as skin whitening, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory effects. These novel HSGs effectively address concerns associated with the ingestion of antimicrobial ingredients and demonstrate reduced skin irritation, thereby alleviating hand dermatological issues. This review provides an extensive overview of the application scenarios, classification, and challenges associated with HSGs while emphasizing the emergence of novel components with biological functions, aiming to contribute to the advancement of hand hygiene practices and offer novel insights for the development of novel HSGs with outstanding antimicrobial properties with other multiple biological functions and desirable biosafety profiles. Full article
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