Urinary β2 Microglobulin in Workers Exposed to Arc Welding Fumes
Welding is a process in which two or more metals are attached by the use of heat and, in some cases, pressure. Direct exposure and inhalation of welding fumes causes acute and chronic side effects in humans. Kidney damage is one of these important side effects. β2 microglobulin is an 11.8 kilodalton protein and levels increase in the case of some inflammatory and viral diseases, or kidney malfunction and autoimmune diseases. In this study measurements of β2 microglobulin were used as a criterion for assessing effects on the kidneys of workers exposed to welding fumes. The study population were electric arc welders in an industrial plant in Tehran, Iran. For control we selected workers who did not have any exposure to welding fumes. Both groups were selected on the basis of a questionnaire and the consideration of criteria for inclusion and exclusion. In the end 50 cases and 50 controls were chosen. A urine sample was collected from all participants and urinary pH was set to between 6-8 using NaOH (1M). Sample transportation to the laboratory complied with the related standards. The samples were assessed using the ORG 5BM kit. For quantitative assessment of β2 microglobulin we used the Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) method. The ages of the welders ranged from 21 to 48 years (mean=30.5±5.9 yrs) and of controls from 23 to 56 years (mean=31.8±5.9 yrs). Mean employment duration was 7.86±5.01years (range 2 to 27 years) for welders. Mean β2 microglobulin level was 0.10±0.096 μg/ml in welders and 0.11±0.06 in controls. This difference was not statistically significant (P=0.381). In conclusion we don't find that exposure to electric arc welding fumes cause a significant change in urinary β2 microglobulin compared to the control group.
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