Occupational Hazard in Chinese Workers and Their Families: Environmental Epigenetics of Chronic Metal Exposure
Understanding epigenetic responses to toxicant exposure will help trace human disease triggers to environmental conditions that can be readily addressed and mitigated.
Exposure to environmental toxicants and heavy metals is a global health problem. It is especially urgent in China, where individuals working in electroplating plants display blood chromium concentrations that can be 20 times greater than those levels observed in the general population. In electroplating factories and welding environments, occupational workers are not only exposed to lead but also to chromium, cadmium, and other metals. While these mixtures pose a significant health hazard to the workers, little is known about whether exposed individuals can transmit disrupted epigenetic states to their children.
This project examines the biological pathways that may be disrupted in individuals who are directly exposed to heavy metals, and that may also contribute to a transmission of exposure risk to progeny. By discovering these epigenetic attributes, it may be possible to mediate the intergenerational transmission of toxic heavy metal stress and develop widely applicable biomarkers for exposed populations around the world.
Partner Affiliation in China
Institute of Occupational Disease, Zhejiang Academy of Medical Sciences, Hangzhou