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Evaluation of occupational exposure to benzene by urinalysis

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Urinary phenol determinations have traditionally been used to monitor high levels of occupational benzene exposure. However, urinary phenol cannot be used to monitor low-level exposures. New biological indexes for exposure to low levels of benzene are thus needed. The aim of this study was to investigate the relations between exposure to benzene (Abenzene, ppm), as measured by personal air sampling, and the excretion of benzene (U-benzene, ng/l),trans,trans-muconic acid (MA, mg/g creatinine), andS-phenylmercapturic acid (PMA, μg/g creatinine) in urine. The subjects of the study were 145 workers exposed to benzene in a chemical plant. The geometric mean exposure level was 0.1 ppm (geometric standard deviation = 4.16). After logarithmic transformation of the data the following linear regressions were found: log (U-benzene, ng/l) = 0.681 log (A-benzene ppm) + 4.018; log (MA, mg/g creatinine) = 0.429 log (A-benzen ppm) − 0.304; and log (PMA, μg/g creatinine) = 0.712 log (A-benzene ppm) + 1.664. The correlation coefficients were, respectively, 0.66, 0.58, and 0.74. On the basis of the equations it was possible to establish tentative biological limit values corresponding to the respective occupational exposure limit values. In conclusion, the concentrations of benzene, mercapturic acid, and muconic acid in urine proved to be good parameters for monitoring low benzene exposure at the workplace.

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Correspondence to Sergio Ghittori.

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Ghittori, S., Maestri, L., Fiorentino, M.L. et al. Evaluation of occupational exposure to benzene by urinalysis. Int. Arch Occup Environ Heath 67, 195–200 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00626352

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Key words

  • Benzene
  • Biological monitoring
  • trans, trans-Muconic acid
  • S-Phenylmercapturic acid
  • Benzene in urine