Aplastic anemia in a young coke plant worker
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The objective of this study was to make a contribution to the debate on the cause-effect relationship between low-dose exposure to benzene and onset of hemopathies. We report the case of a coke plant worker suffering from aplastic anemia. Before being hired at the coke plant, he underwent a medical examination including a blood cell count: no disease or abnormalities of the blood crasis were found. For 3 years the patient was then exposed to gas containing—as measured in environmental investigation carried out at the coke plant—concentrations of benzene lower than TLV-TWA ACGIH (measured values 21–109 μg/m3). In the absence from the patient’s history of any exposure to other myelotoxic agents and of any earlier pathology causing aplastic anemia, we assume there is a relationship between exposure to low levels of benzene and onset of the disease. However, it is very important to consider that exposure to low levels of benzene could promote myelotoxic reactions when the working environment contains other substances that may act synergstically or compete for the same metabolism sites, or when carcinogenic substances are present in the working environment.
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