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Occupational exposure to hexahydrophthalic anhydride: air analysis, percutaneous absorption, and biological monitoring


Urinary hexahydrophthalic acid (HHP acid) levels were determined in 20 workers occupationally exposed to hexahydrophthalic anhydride (HHPA) air levels of 11–220μg/m3. The levels of HHP acid in urine increased rapidly during exposure and the decreases were also rapid after the end of exposure. The elimination half-time of HHP acid was 5h, which was significantly longer than in experimentally exposed volunteers, possibly indicating distribution to more than one compartment. There was a close correlation between time-weighted average levels of HHPA in air and creatinine-adjusted levels of HHP acid in urine collected during the last 4 h of exposure (r = 0.90), indicating that determination of urinary HHP acid levels is suitable as a method for biological monitoring of HHPA exposure. An air level of 100 μg/m3 corresponded to a postshift urinary HHP acid level of ca. 900 nmol/mmol creatinine in subjects performing light work for 8h. Percutaneous absorption of HHPA was studied by application of HHPA in petrolatum to the back skin of three volunteers. The excreted amounts of HHP acid in urine, as a fraction of the totally applied amount of HHPA, were within intervals of 1.4%–4.5%, 0.2%–1.3%, and 0%–0.4% respectively, indicating that the contribution from percutaneous absorption is of minor importance in a method for biological monitoring.

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Correspondence to B. A. G. Jönsson.

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Jönsson, B.A.G., Welinder, H., Hansson, C. et al. Occupational exposure to hexahydrophthalic anhydride: air analysis, percutaneous absorption, and biological monitoring. Int. Arch Occup Environ Heath 65, 43–47 (1993).

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Key words

  • Hexahydrophthalic anhydride
  • Hexahydrophthalic acid
  • Urine
  • Skin absorption
  • Biological monitoring