Biomarkers of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure and genetic biomarkers of potential cancer susceptibility were determined in a group of United States Army soldiers who were deployed to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in 1991 in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War. Because hundreds of oil well fires were still burning, there was concern that ground troops stationed in Kuwait might be exposed to high levels of PAHs and other toxicants. The United States Army Environmental Hygiene Agency monitored air and soil for ambient PAHs. In addition, a group of 61 soldiers was involved in the biomonitoring study reported here. These soldiers kept diaries of daily activities and provided blood and urine samples in Germany (June) before deployment to Kuwait, after 8 weeks in Kuwait (August), and 1 month after the return to Germany (October). Here we present data for PAH-DNA adducts measured by immunoassay in blood cell DNA samples obtained at all three sampling times from 22 soldiers and bulky aromatic adducts measured by 32P-postlabeling in blood cell DNA samples from 20 of the same soldiers. Urinary 1-hydroxypyrene-glucuronide levels were determined by synchronous fluorescence spectrometry in a matched set of samples from 33 soldiers. Contrary to expectations, environmental monitoring showed low ambient PAH levels in the areas where these soldiers were working in Kuwait. For both DNA adduct assays, levels were the lowest in Kuwait in August and increased significantly after the soldiers returned to Germany (October). Urinary 1-hydroxypyrene-glucuronide levels were also lowest in Kuwait and highest in Germany, but the differences were not statistically significant. The PAH-exposure biomarker levels were not significantly influenced by polymorphic variations of CYP1A1 (MspI) and glutathione S-transferases M1 and T1. Overall, the data suggest that this group of soldiers was not exposed to elevated levels of PAHs while deployed in Kuwait.
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