2002 Volume 40 Issue 2 Pages 207-213
Our aim was to investigate the adverse effects of occupational exposure to trivalent chromium. We measured chromium and iron levels in serum and urine and hemoglobin levels in tannery workers and unexposed persons. We studied three groups of subjects. Group 1 included 15 non-smoking male tannery workers highly exposed to chromium from tanning and retanning departments. Group 2 included 14 non-smoking male tannery workers with moderate chromium exposure from dying, drying and finishing departments. Group 3 included 11 healthy, non-smoking male subjects without direct chromium exposure. Higher serum chromium levels were observed in groups 1 and 2 with respect to group 3 (mean values respectively: 0.43; 0.25 and 0.13 μg•l-1). Urine chromium levels in group 1 were higher than those in controls (mean values: 1.78 and 1.35 μg•l-1). In group 1 an inverse association was found between serum chromium and urine iron (-0.524), urine chromium and hemoglobin (-0.594) and between the urine chromium to iron ratio and hemoglobin (-0.693, p<0.05). The results suggest a chromium adverse effect on iron metabolism, possibly associated with excessive body chromium accumulation. In conclusion, chromium urine test could be recommended for diagnosis of chromium adverse effect on iron metabolism. Further studies are needed to quantify the relationship between urine chromium and hemoglobin metabolism.