Pulmonary and neurological health effects associated with exposure to representative composite manufacturing emissions and corresponding alterations in circulating metabolite profiles


Cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) technology is increasingly being utilized to repair aging and damaged pipes, however, there are concerns associated with the public health hazards of emissions. CIPP installation involves the manufacture of a new plastic composite pipe at the worksite and includes multiple variable components including resin material, curing methods, and operational conditions. We hypothesize styrene-based composite manufacturing emissions (CMEs) will induce greater pulmonary inflammatory responses and oxidative stress, as well as neurological toxicity compared with nonstyrene CMEs. Further, these CME-toxicological responses will be sex- and time-dependent. To test the hypothesis, representative CMEs were generated using a laboratory curing chamber and characterized using thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and photoionization detector. Styrene was released during staying, isothermal curing, and cooling phases of the process and peaked during the cooling phase. Male and female C57BL6/J mice were utilized to examine alterations in pulmonary responses and neurotoxicity 1 day and 7 days following exposure to air (controls), nonstyrene-CMEs, or styrene-CMEs. Serum styrene metabolites were increased in mice exposed to styrene-CMEs. Metabolic and lipid profiling revealed alterations related to CIPP emissions that were resin-, time-, and sex-dependent. Exposure to styrene-CMEs resulted in an influx of lymphocytes in both sexes. Expression of inflammatory and oxidative stress markers, including Tnfα, Vcam1, Ccl2, Cxcl2Il6Cxcl1Tgfβ1Tgmt2, and Hmox1, displayed alterations following exposure to emissions. These changes in pulmonary and neurological markers of toxicity were dependent on resin type, sex, and time. Overall, this study demonstrates resin-specific differences in representative CMEs and alterations in toxicity endpoints, which can potentially inform safer utilization of composite manufacturing processes.