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workers, building, architect

NORA Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goals

9270062 - Acrylamide Worker's Reproductive and Neurological Health

Start Date: 10/1/2003
End Date: 9/30/2009

Principal Investigator (PI)
Name: William Moorman
Phone: 513-533-8275
Organization: NIOSH
Sub-Unit: DART
Funded By: NIOSH

Primary Goal Addressed

Secondary Goal Addressed


Attributed to Manufacturing


Project Description

Short Summary

Worker's Reproductive and Neurological Health is an ongoing project to determine exposures and potential reproductive and neurobehavioral effects in acrylamide-exposed workers in the Manufacturing Sector. The absence of human data for reproductive toxicity of acrylamides is of concern due to its extensive and growing commercial use. We have completed sampling and analysis of ambient and personal air levels as well as hemoglobin adducts as internal dose markers at a major production facility. The project is also evaluating male workers with and without exposures to acrylamide for exposures and reproductive and neurological endpoints. Exposures are assessed by area and personal sampling, reported exposure data, and exposure biomarkers.


The goal of this project is to determine if occupational exposure (including biomarkers of internal dose) produces adverse effects as measured in reproductive biomarkers (semen quality parameters, reproductive hormone levels, PSA levels), and neurobehavioral measures (sensation-tactile, postural stability, grooved pegboard, and simple reaction time tests). A second goal of this project is to determine if hemoglobin-acrylamide adducts are a good indicator of worker exposure. A cross-sectional study is being conducted to evaluate the adduct biomarkers for personal exposure monitoring. Exposure, reproductive, and neurobehavioral data will be obtained from exposed workers and controls at selected facilities, and analyzed by experienced staff at both CDC and NIOSH. Specifically, the following study objectives are being implemented during a multi-year time-frame. Companies have been contacted to partner with NIOSH in this study to evaluate workers' exposure to acrylamide and its congeners using ambient area and personal sampling, dermal sampling, reported exposure data, and exposure biomarkers (hemoglobin adduct levels, urinary metabolites). Three companies in acrylamide production have been studied and the data shows the hemoglobin adducts to be very sensitive at revealing internal dose. A coal preparation plant was studied as well as workers from other coal plants to determine if acrylamide exposure was significant. A manuscript has been prepared and submitted to a scientific journal for publication. We are now focusing on field studies to evaluate reproductive health parameters (semen quality and sperm DNA integrity, circulating reproductive hormone levels, and reported reproductive health history) and neurobehavioral parameters (sensation-tactile, postural stability, grooved pegboard, and simple reaction time tests). Biomonitoring, when compared to environmental air monitoring, is more sensitive and relevant to health especially when the toxicant presents multiple routes of exposure as is the case with acrylamide. In FY08 the analysis of urinary metabolites was completed and a return visit to one of the acrylamide production facilities was conducted and a comprehensive health assessment of exposed workers was performed.


• Conduct internet searches using the ISI Web of Science to determine citation counts for our publications

• Maintain contacts with trade associations and unions to determine if/when NIOSH recommendations are adopted

• Maintain contacts with trade associations and unions and conduct literature searches to determine if acrylamide protein biomarkers are being used in other studies

• Requests for collaborative research projects will be tracked as an indicator of successful marketing of our research

• Track invited presentations as an indicator of successful marketing of our research

Mission Relevance

NIOSH's participation in the National Toxicology Program (NTP) has revealed new information about occupational reproductive toxicants. Acrylamide and its congeners have been identified as high priority reproductive toxicants. Priority was derived at a NIOSH workshop and based on toxicity and NIOSH National Occupational Survey (NOES) estimate of workers potentially exposed. Acrylamide is an odorless, crystalline solid with extensive current usage and growing commercial potential. Thousands of workers in the manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and utilities, are potentially exposed (NOES -10,500 in 1982). Companies are required to report use in the USEPA Toxic Release Inventory which provides company names, chemical uses, amount and type of production, and other surveillance and tracking information useful in the selection of companies to approach. Recent summarization by an independent, international panel of experts on acrylamide concludes that human studies using and correlating biomarkers (hemoglobin adducts) with conventional exposures measures constitutes a critical data need (CERHR, 2004). Recent findings have shown reproductive effects occurring at lower levels than those causing neurotoxicity. Analysis of biomarkers of reproductive function, such as semen analysis, can serve as preclinical indicators of the reproductive effects. An evaluation of preclinical signs of reproductive impairment in the current study will permit assessment of whether or not these earlier, subtle symptoms can be used to assess exposure when correlated with biomonitoring. Results from our research using biomarkers will enable industrial sectors (manufacturing) to more effectively evaluate worker exposure and is being recognized as an improved health and safety practice for the assessment of worker exposure. Adduct analysis will be done collaboratively by the CDC, NCEH Clinical Chemistry Branch. If this biomarker method is shown to improve worker exposure assessment and/or health assessment, results will be disseminated to companies and unions who have employees that are exposed to acrylamide. Results of this study will contribute information on human exposure to acrylamide and potential reproductive and neurological effects that are available for risk assessment and regulatory decision-making. This project meets the research goals of the Branch and Division to reduce work-related illnesses and injuries through laboratory and field studies by conducting reproductive health assessments of workers exposed to workplace hazards. The project addresses Manufacturing Sector Strategic Goal 9 (09PPMNFSG9): Enhance the state of knowledge related to emerging risks to occupational safety and health in manufacturing. The project directly addresses the Cancer, Reproductive, and Cardiovascular Cross-Sector reproductive health activity/output goal 3.1.2 (09PPCRCAO3.1.2) conduct studies of high-priority exposures to identify and quantify risk of adverse reproductive health associated with workplace exposures, and activity/output goal 3.1.3 (09PPCRCAOG3.1.3) develop and evaluate biomonitoring methods to assess the correlation of workplace factors and exposures with adverse reproductive outcomes in workers, and Exposure Assessment Intermediate Goal 2.4 (09PPEXAIG2.4) to develop biomonitoring methods including biomarkers that are useful for mixed exposures.