Date: 22 Jun 2006

Heart rate variability, hemostatic and acute inflammatory blood parameters in healthy adults after short-term exposure to welding fume

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The present study aimed to investigate, whether short-term experimental exposure to high levels of welding fumes would be capable of exerting acute effects in healthy subjects. Specifically, we assessed cardiovascular function in terms of heart rate variability (HRV) as well as the concentrations of inflammatory mediators and hemostatic proteins in blood as outcome measures. Twenty subjects without a history of airway and cardiovascular diseases were exposed to either control air or welding fume for 1 h on 2 separate days under standardized conditions. The median concentration of the alveolar particle fraction during welding was 3.5 mg/m3 (quartiles: 1.4–6.3 mg/m3; range 1.0–25.3 mg/m3). Five hours later a panel of clinical assessments was performed, including HRV measurement and drawing of blood samples. There were no changes in symptom ratings or lung function after welding fume exposure. Exposures did also not differ regarding effects on time- and frequency-domain parameters of HRV. Similarly, blood leukocyte numbers, cell differentials and the blood levels of fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, antithrombin III, factor VIII, von Willebrand factor, ristocetin cofactor, sICAM-1, tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 6, interleukin 8 and epithelial neutrophil activating peptide 78 were not altered by welding fume inhalation. However, there was a significant fall in the level of endothelin-1 (P < 0.01). In conclusion, the data did not indicate effects of clinical significance of a short-term high-level exposure to welding fumes on HRV or a set of blood hemostatic and acute inflammatory parameters in healthy subjects. The small but statistically significant effect on endothelin levels demonstrated that measurable effects could be elicited even in these individuals. Overall, welding fumes are not likely to exert acute cardiovascular effects in healthy individuals.