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Tin speciation in the blood plasma of workers occupationally exposed in a cassiterite ore processing industry

posted on 18.06.2022, 08:33 by Débora Resende de Souza Lima, Filipe Soares Quirino da Silva, Renato Marçullo borges, Rejane Correa Marques, Maria de Fátima Ramos Moreira

ABSTRACT Mining is a high-risk activity due to its dangerous processes. Tin (Sn) is obtained from cassiterite ore and mining activities expose workers to the metal. Chronic exposure to Sn may cause pneumoconiosis, gastrointestinal and hematological effects, among others. This work aimed to assess the exposure of workers to tin in a cassiterite ore processing industry, using the speciation analysis in blood plasma. Twelve subjects donated the blood samples; six were occupationally exposed to Sn. Size exclusion chromatography separated proteins in blood plasma; a graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometer determined total tin in the plasma and eluted fractions, while SDS-PAGE determined molecular masses of proteins. Tin levels in the workers’ plasma were four times higher than in the reference individuals. After fractionation, the metal only appeared in the total inclusion volume, not being possible to confirm the binding of tin to proteins, which certainly modifies their functions and impair workers’ health. Despite that, the work process needs to change since Sn levels in the workers’ plasma pointed to metal exposure. Further works are necessary to clarify whether the metal is free or bound to small proteins in blood plasma and understand the true impact of tin on workers’ health.