Multi-component assessment of worker exposures in a copper refinery : Part 2. Biological exposure indices for copper, nickel and cobalt
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Urinary copper (Cu), nickel (Ni) and cobalt (Co) concentrations were determined for 127 Cu refinery workers (40 females, 87 males), with values of the 95% upper confidence interval of the geometric mean in nmol per mmol creatinine of 89 (Ni), 42 (Cu) and 3.4 (Co) for electrorefinery workers. In the pyrometallurgical departments, the corresponding concentrations were 37 (Ni), 99 (Cu) and 11 (Co). Female workers had higher Co urinary concentrations than males (p< or = 0.05) while no gender difference was observed for Cu and Ni. Inter-elemental correlations were moderate to weak. Based on the inhalable aerosol levels reported previously for the same workers, the observed urinary Cu concentrations were considerably lower than expected, relative to Co and Ni. This is interpreted in terms of the current understanding of Cu homeostasis.
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