Exhaled nitric oxide levels and lung function changes of underground coal miners in Newcastle, Australia.J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2010; 73(5):437-44.JT
The possibility of exhaled nitric oxide (eNO) in combination with lung function as a marker of airway inflammation produced by coal mining exposure was determined presuming that workers exposed to airborne hazards would possess different concentrations of eNO and decreased lung function indices, relative to control subjects recruited from the same area. The effect of smoking was also considered. A study (exposed) group comprising 186 male subjects (aged 19-58 yr) was recruited from Newcastle coal mining companies with 86 male subjects (aged 20-64 yr) from the same area, but working outside of the coal mining location, serving as controls. The parameters examined were eNO, lung function, and variables derived from an interview-administered questionnaire survey. After adjustment for age, body weight, and smoking status, no significant differences between exposed coal mining workers and controls were found for various lung function parameters. However, the exposed group was shown to have significantly lower concentrations of eNO. In the exposed group, forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV(1)), forced vital capacity (FVC), and FEV(1) (%) predicted were found to be significantly different between nonsmokers and smokers. The concentrations of eNO were not significantly different between smoking and nonsmokers within the exposed group. The consideration of nonsmokers alone showed that eNO was significantly lower in the exposed group compared to the control group. The consideration of smokers alone found that eNO was significantly lower in exposed subjects. In the exposed group, no significant association was detected between eNO levels and underground work duration but a significant negative association was shown between eNO and age. Data suggest that exposure to airborne hazards in coal mining is not significantly associated with lung function changes but is correlated with decreased eNO concentrations in exposed workers. While underground work duration was not found to be significantly associated with eNO concentrations in coal mining workers in this study, the potential for using eNO as a monitoring marker still exists and further studies are needed to establish its importance.