Analysis of manganese and iron in exhaled endogenous particles
Background: many full-time welders experience some sort of respiratory disorder e.g., asthma, bronchitis and metal fume fever. Thus, welding aerosols are thought to cause airway inflammation. There is a need for markers of welding aerosols in exposure assessments, and as most welding aerosols contain manganese and iron, these metals may possibly be used as an indicator. We have previously developed a novel non-invasive technique to collect endogenous particles in exhaled air (PEx). This study is designed to (i) develop a method for analysis of manganese and iron in PEx and (ii) investigate whether the manganese and/or iron content of PEx changes after exposure to welding aerosols. Methods: nine individuals were experimentally exposed to welding fumes. PEx was collected at three time points for each individual; before, after and 24 hours after exposure. Analyses of PEx samples were performed using Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Results: four out of nine individuals showed an increase in manganese and iron levels after exposure to welding aerosols. The mean manganese and iron concentration increased from, <LOD to 82–84 pg L−1 (range from 0 to LOD for values <LOD) and 20–86 to 2600 pg L−1 of exhaled air respectively. Conclusions: an ICP-MS method for analysis of manganese and iron in PEx has been developed. The method could easily be expanded to include other trace metals of interest, such as cadmium, nickel or chromium. This first attempt to evaluate PEx as a tool for exposure assessments of airborne metals indicates that the method has potential.