Effects of occupational exposure to metal fume PM2.5 on lung function and biomarkers among shipyard workers: a 3-year prospective cohort study

Huan Minh Tran, Ching Huang Lai, Wei Liang Chen, Chung Ching Wang, Che Wei Liang, Chi Yu Chien, Chih Hong Pan, Kai Jen Chuang, Hsiao Chi Chuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study investigates the associations of α1-antitrypsin, inter-α-trypsin inhibitor heavy chain (ITIH4), and 8-isoprostane with lung function in shipyard workers exposed to occupational metal fume fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which is known to be associated with adverse respiratory outcomes. Methods: A 3-year follow-up study was conducted on 180 shipyard workers with 262 measurements. Personal exposure to welding fume PM2.5 was collected for an 8-h working day. Pre-exposure, post-exposure, and delta (∆) levels of α1-antitrypsin, ITIH4, and 8-isoprostane were determined in urine using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Post-exposure urinary metals were sampled at the beginning of the next working day and analyzed by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Lung function measurements were also conducted the next working day for post-exposure. Results: An IQR increase in PM2.5 was associated with decreases of 2.157% in FEV1, 2.806% in PEF, 4.328% in FEF25%, 5.047% in FEF50%, and 7.205% in FEF75%. An IQR increase in PM2.5 led to increases of 42.155 µg/g in ∆α1-antitrypsin and 16.273 µg/g in ∆ITIH4. Notably, IQR increases in various urinary metals were associated with increases in specific biomarkers, such as post-urinary α1-antitrypsin and ITIH4. Moreover, increases in ∆ α1-antitrypsin and ∆ITIH4 were associated with decreases in FEV1/FVC by 0.008% and 0.020%, respectively, and an increase in ∆8-isoprostane resulted in a 1.538% decline in FVC. Conclusion: Our study suggests that urinary α1-antitrypsin and ITIH4 could indicate early lung function decline in shipyard workers exposed to metal fume PM2.5, underscoring the need for better safety and health monitoring to reduce respiratory risks. Graphical abstract: (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-412
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • ITIH4
  • Lung function
  • Oxidative stress
  • Particulate matter
  • Welding
  • α1-antitrypsin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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