Frequency of oral mucosa micronuclei in gas station operators after introducing methanol

G. J. F. Gattas
2001 Occupational Medicine  
Methanol has been proposed in different countries as an alternative automotive fuel to be used as an additive to, or replacement for, gasoline or ethanol. Utilization of methanol is increasing exposure to low levels of methanol vapors in the environment and more specifically in occupational settings such as gas stations. Pump operators are exposed to relatively high levels of fuel vapors, the consequences of which have not been fully examined. In this study, the micronucleus assay in squamous
more » ... assay in squamous oral cells was performed on pump operators of 28 gas stations in three different periods in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The frequency of micronuclei (MN) was evaluated before and 1 year after a mixed fuel called MEG, which contains 33% methanol, 60% ethanol and 7% gasoline, was introduced. The third evaluation, 3 years later, represents a period where the number of cars using alcohol fuel had decreased drastically and the pump operator exposure to MEG became very low. The frequency of MN observed in 76 employees in 1992 (mean = 3.62 ± 0.39) was significantly increased (P < 0.001) as compared with 76 operators exposed in 1989 (mean = 1.41 ± 0.26) and 129 exposed in 1995 (mean = 1.20 ± 0.15). These differences were also significant when compared with control groups not exposed professionally to motor fuel. These findings could indicate a mutagenic hazard of the MEG occurring in those with occupational exposure.
doi:10.1093/occmed/51.2.107 pmid:11307685 fatcat:244tervbnbczlf25x6jlqlfh7y