Occupational chronic exposure to organic solvents XVI. Ambient and biological monitoring of workers exposed to toluene
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Object Ambient air and biological monitoring of an occupational toluene exposure was carried out on a group of 33 workers. Method The biological monitoring of the workers was based on determination of the concentration of toluene in blood and on quantification of the urinary metabolites o-cresol and hippuric acid. All blood and urine samples were collected post-shift. Results The average toluene concentration in the workplace air was 65 ppm, ranging from 13 to 151 ppm. An average concentration of toluene in blood of 911 μg/l was found, corresponding to an average urinary concentration of 2.9 mg/l (2.3 mg/g creatinine) o-cresol and 2.4 g/l (1.9 g/g creatinine) hippuric acid. Both urinary metabolites can be correlated with the concentration of toluene in ambient air and blood, respectively. Conclusions The results of our study indicate that the determination of the urinary o-cresol excretion represents a diagnostically specific and sensitive parameter for the estimation of an individual toluene uptake. In contrast, monitoring of the concentration of hippuric acid in urine cannot be recommended for assessment of individual exposure. To set up a biological tolerance value (BAT) for o-cresol, a urinary concentration of 3 mg/l o-cresol should be in accordance with the current MAK value of 50 ppm toluene.
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