Carbon nanotubes and nanofibers are used in many fields, such as in manufacturing and information technology. Both of these carbon particles are physically similar to asbestos, and one type of carbon nanotube (MWCNT-7) have recently been found to be carcinogenic. Due to the variety of carbon nanotubes and nanofibers, accessing their potential toxicity to workers remains difficult. Animal studies have demonstrated that exposure to nanotubes and nanofibers can lead to oxidative stress and cardiovascular effects locally and systemically. This is the first industrywide cross-sectional study across 12 different sites in the United States. Of the 144 workers identified, 108 workers from 12 different companies provided blood and/or sputum samples. Using a custom biomarker panel, Myriad RBM analyzed collected sputum and blood samples for 30 and 31 biomarkers respectively. Primary pattern identification used exploratory factor analyses with varimax rotation.
In the sputum sample (Table 2), 3 factors explained 78% of the variance, almost all positive, with 10 biomarkers falling under factor 1.
The supplementary data tables breaks down individual biomarker correlations with inhalable elemental carbon, respirable elemental carbon, inhalable carbon nanotubes/nanofibers, and other defined variables. Exposure to carbon nanotubes and/or nanofibers consistently associated with biomarkers for sputum fibrosis and oxidative stress. This work demonstrates that Myriad RBM biomarker services can assist in understanding the associations between biomarkers and work environmental conditions and the potential impact on future health outcomes.