A remarkable number of complex aerosols are generated from welding processes. The objective of this study was to compare DNA damage and lipid peroxidation in plasma and in lung and in liver tissue of rats exposed to welding fumes in an exposure chamber with those of control animals. Three air samples from the chamber were also collected to assess the exposure dose for each exposure (total samplings = 18). Eight male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to welding fumes at a concentration of 1540.76 mg/m3 for 10 min/day six times on day 1, day 3, day 7, day 15, day 30 and day 40. Lung, liver and kidney injury was measured following exposure, as well as in unexposed control rats (n=4 at the beginning of the study). DNA strand breakage [tail moment (TMOM)] in exposed animals showed significant differences at day 1, day 4, day 7 and day 15 relative to the levels in control animals. Malondialdehyde (MDA, a lipid peroxidation product) levels increased gradually post-welding to 0.4 μM at 7 days. MDA and TMOM both reached maximum levels 7 days after the first exposure. At the start, an increasing trend in DNA strand breakage was more obvious than increases in MDA levels; MDA seemed to reflect long-term effects of exposure to welding fumes since it increased after 7 days and was sustained to 40 days in vivo. Significant differences in both MDA levels and DNA strand breakage were seen in lung, liver and kidney 40 days after the first fume inhalation. We conclude that acute exposure of rats to welding fumes causes noticeable oxidative damage and lipid peroxidation effects and that DNA damage may recover after long and repeat exposure. More chronic inhalation and low-dose studies are needed in order to further assess the effects of inhalation of welding fumes on DNA and to elucidate the possible causal mechanisms associated with the biologically damaging effects of welding fumes.
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