Environmental assessment of BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes) and biomarkers of genotoxicity in gas stations workers

<p></p><p>Abstract Introduction: gas station workers are exposed to several chemicals in their workplace, highlighting benzene, due to its carcinogenic properties. Objective: to assess the genotoxic damage related to occupational exposure to BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes) in workers of five gas stations in Rio de Janeiro, RJ. Methods: analysis of BTEX concentrations in the air were carried out; as well as activities of catalase and glutathione S-transferase; and comet assay in whole blood samples of 97 workers. Results: BTEX levels were within the Brazilian threshold levels recommended by the NR 15, including Annex 13-A. However, an oscillation of the comet assay results was observed among workers of different gas stations, mainly in workers from gas stations with lower concentrations of benzene. Discussion: this result is in accordance with the current international scientific literature that indicates a supralinear exposure-response curve for benzene. In lower concentrations we could observe a high non-linear risk of leukemia, probably due to a greater benzene metabolism and a higher production of its toxic metabolites. Conclusion: the results of this study suggest that exposure to BTEX, even in low concentrations, contributes to genotoxic risk to human health.</p><p></p>