Background: Exposure to naphthalene, an IARC-classified possible carcinogen and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), is widespread, though resulting health effects are poorly understood. Metabolites of naphthalene, 1- and 2-naphthol, are measurable in urine and are biomarkers of personal exposure. Chromosomal aberrations (CAs), including translocations, are established markers of cancer risk and a bio-dosimeter of clastogenic exposures. Although prenatal (maternal) PAH exposure predicts CAs in cord blood, few studies have examined CAs in school-age children and none has examined their association with metabolites of specific PAHs.
Methods: Using Whole Chromosome Paint Fluorescent in Situ Hybridization, we documented CAs including translocations, in 113 five year old urban minority children and examined their association with concurrent concentrations of PAH metabolites measured in urine.
Results: We report that in lymphocytes, the occurrence and frequency of CAs including translocations are associated with levels of urinary 1- and 2-naphthol. When doubling the levels of urinary naphthols, gender-adjusted Odds Ratio (OR) for CAs are 1.63 (95%CI: 1.21, 2.19) and 1.44 (95%CI: 1.02, 2.04) for 1-and 2-naphthol respectively; and for translocations: OR=1.55 (95%CI: 1.11-2.17) and 1.92 (95%CI: 1.20-3.08) for 1- and 2-naphthol respectively.
Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that markers of exposure to naphthalene in children are associated with translocations in a dose related manner, and that naphthalene may be a clastogen.