Background Boilermakers are occupationally exposed to known carcinogens.Methods The association of urinary 1-hydroxy-pyrene (1-OHP), a biomarker of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure, with biomarkers of metal exposure (vanadium, chromium, manganese, nickel, copper, and lead) in boilermakers exposed to metal fume from welding and dust particulates from residual oil fly ash (ROFA) was examined. A repeated measures cohort study was conducted during the overhaul of an oilfired boiler Twice-daily urine samples were obtained for 5 days and analyzed for cotinine, 1-OHP, and metals. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) were used to model the multivariate relationship of 1-OHP to the explanatory variables.Results Metal and 1-OHP levels were determined for 165 urine samples from 20 boilermakers and these levels increased during the workweek. However the 1-OHP level was not significantly associated with any individual metal level at any time point.Conclusion This suggests that boilermakers were occupationally exposed to PAH and metals, but 1-OHP as a PAH biomarker was unable to serve as a surrogate marker of metal exposure for the metals measured in this study. (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.