Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 82, Issue 1, pp 13–20 | Cite as

Human volunteer study on the inhalational and dermal absorption of N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) from the vapour phase

  • Michael Bader
  • Renate Wrbitzky
  • Meinolf Blaszkewicz
  • Michael Schäper
  • Christoph van Thriel
Toxicokinetics and Metabolism


N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) is a versatile organic solvent frequently used for surface cleaning such as paint stripping or graffiti removal. Liquid NMP is rapidly absorbed through the skin but dermal vapour phase absorption might also play an important role for the uptake of the solvent. This particular aspect was investigated in an experimental study with 16 volunteers exposed to 80 mg/m3 NMP for 8 h under either whole-body, i.e. inhalational plus dermal, or dermal-only conditions. Additionally, the influence of moderate physical workload on the uptake of NMP was studied. The urinary concentrations of NMP and its metabolites 5-hydroxy-N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (5-HNMP) and 2-hydroxy-N-methylsuccinimide (2-HMSI) were followed for 48 h and analysed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS). Percutaneous uptake delayed the elimination peak times and the apparent biological half-lives of NMP and 5-HNMP. Under resting conditions, dermal-only exposure resulted in the elimination of 71 ± 8 mg NMP equivalents as compared to 169 ± 15 mg for whole-body exposure. Moderate workload yielded 79 ± 8 mg NMP (dermal-only) and 238 ± 18 mg (whole-body). Thus, dermal absorption from the vapour phase may contribute significantly to the total uptake of NMP, e.g. from workplace atmospheres. As the concentration of airborne NMP does not reflect the body dose, biomonitoring should be carried out for surveillance purposes.


N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone Dermal absorption Biomonitoring GC–MS 



This study was financially supported by grants of the NMP Producers Group, c/o Bergeson & Campbell, Washington DC, USA.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Bader
    • 1
  • Renate Wrbitzky
    • 1
  • Meinolf Blaszkewicz
    • 2
  • Michael Schäper
    • 2
  • Christoph van Thriel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Occupational MedicineHannover Medical SchoolHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Institute for Occupational Physiology at the University of Dortmund (IfADo)DortmundGermany

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