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Biomarker Research in Occupational Health

Au, William W. PhD; Lee, Ernest MD, MPH; Christiani, David C. MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2005 - Volume 47 - Issue 2 - p 145-153
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000152922.03953.9a
Original Articles

Objectives: A variety of biomarkers have been used to study worker populations, and these studies have achieved different levels of success in the improvement of occupational health.

Methods: Successful application of biomarker research is dependent upon several important factors: ability to identify hazardous substances from the exposure to a variety of substances, relevance to the development of disease, and usefulness for health risk assessment.

Results: Besides the traditional biomarkers for exposure, biological effects, and health risk, new biomarkers for susceptibility and genome-wide responses are being used to improve our understanding of occupational health at a higher and, perhaps, more precise level.

Conclusions: In addition, there is a continued need to develop and apply biomarkers that can be used to provide real-time detection of excessive exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace, especially from unexpected fugitive emissions. These topics are discussed in the review.

From the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, The University of Texas, Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas (Dr Au); Occupational Health Program, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr Lee, Dr Christiani); and Air Force Institute of Technology, U.S. Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio (Dr Lee).

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Air Force, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

Address correspondence to: Dr William W. Au, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, 2.102 Ewing Hall, 700 Harborside Drive, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-1110; E-mail:

©2005The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine