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The Effects of Exposure Time on Systemic Inflammation in Subjects With Exposure to Zinc- and Copper-Containing Brazing Fumes

Brand, Peter PhD; Beilmann, Viktor; Thomas, Katharina MSc; Kraus, Thomas MD; Krichel, Thomas MSc; Reisgen, Mara; Schmidt, Katrin MSc; Krabbe, Julia MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 10 - p 806–811
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001676

Introduction: Inhalation of copper and zinc containing brazing fumes (2.5 mg/m3 for 6 hours) is able to induce asymptomatic systemic inflammation which is supposed to be connected with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. In this study it was investigated if inflammation can be prevented by reducing the exposure time.

Methods: A total of 15 healthy male subjects were exposed to such brazing fumes in a crossover design for 3, 4, and 5 hours in randomized order. Before and 24 hours after exposure, blood samples were taken and c-reactive protein (CRP) as marker for an acute phase reaction was measured.

Results: Five-hour exposure induced an increase of CRP, whereas the shorter exposure times did not result in a significant inflammatory reaction.

Conclusions: Reducing daily exposure times below 5 hours is able to prevent systemic inflammatory reactions.

Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Medical Faculty Aachen, RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany (Dr Brand, Beilmann, Thomas, Dr Kraus, Mr Krichel, Reisgen, and Dr Krabbe); ISF-Welding and Joining Institute, RWTH Aachen, Aachen, Germany (Mr Krichel and Ms Schmidt).

Address correspondence to: Peter Brand, PhD, Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Medical Faculty Aachen, RWTH Aachen, Pauwelsstrasse 30, D-52074 Aachen, Germany (

This project was funded by the Institution for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention in the woodworking and metalworking industry (BGHM), Hannover, Germany, with an unrestricted grant to the University Hospital RWTH Aachen.

Brand, Beilmann, Thomas, Kraus, Krichel, Reisgen, Schmidt, and Krabbe have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine