Serum pneumoproteins in tunnel construction workers

  • Dag G. EllingsenEmail author
  • Bente Ulvestad
  • Berit Bakke
  • Ingebjørg Seljeflot
  • Lars Barregard
  • Yngvar Thomassen
Original Article



The aim was to study inflammatory biomarkers in tunnel construction workers (TCW).


Surfactant protein D (SP-D), Clara cell protein 16 (CC-16) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were studied in serum of 90 TCW and 50 referents before and at the end of an 11-day work period. Personal air sampling was carried out on the two consecutive days before follow-up.


The TCW’s geometric mean exposure to particulate matter and α-quartz were 604 and 74 µg/m3, respectively. The arithmetic mean concentration of elemental carbon was 51 µg/m3. The arithmetic mean concentration of SP-D was reduced by 7.6 µg/L in the TCWs and 0.6 µg/L in the referents (p = 0.04) at the end as compared to before the work period. Subjects who had ever been TCW had lower arithmetic mean CC-16 concentrations at baseline (5.4 µg/L) than subjects who had never worked as TCW (6.4 µg/L). Years worked as TCW was significantly associated with an annual mean decline of the CC-16 concentration of 0.04 µg/L. The concentrations of the biomarker of systemic inflammation, CRP, were not affected by exposure in the TCWs. Current smoking and body mass index have a large impact on the measured biomarker concentrations.


The results suggest that former and current TCWs have lower serum CC-16 concentrations than referents, while the concentrations of SP-D decreased during exposure. The serum biomarker of systemic inflammation, CRP, was not altered during exposure. Current smoking and BMI were related to the concentrations of all measured biomarkers.


CC-16 SP-D Tunnel construction α-Quartz Diesel exhaust 



The study was carried out with financial support from Statoil Work Environment Fund (Norway) and the Fund for Regional Delegate for the Construction Industry (Norway).

Conflict of interest

Bente Ulvestad has a part-time position as occupational physician in one of the companies where the study was carried out. The remaining authors declare no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dag G. Ellingsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bente Ulvestad
    • 1
    • 2
  • Berit Bakke
    • 1
  • Ingebjørg Seljeflot
    • 3
    • 4
  • Lars Barregard
    • 5
  • Yngvar Thomassen
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute of Occupational HealthOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department of Occupational MedicineMesta ASMossNorway
  3. 3.Department of Cardiology, Center for Clinical Heart ResearchOslo University Hospital UllevålOsloNorway
  4. 4.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  5. 5.Department of Occupational and Environmental MedicineUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden

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