Lung uptake and excretion of n-hexane were studied in ten workers in a shoe factory. Simultaneous samples of inhaled and alveolar air were collected with the aid of a Rhan-Otis valve, personal samplers, and charcoal tubes. Alveolar excretion was monitored during a six hour postexposure period. Uptake was calculated from lung ventilation, the retention coefficient, and environmental concentrations. The amount of exhaled n-hexane was calculated from the decay curve. According to the experimental data, alveolar retention was about 25% of the inhaled n-hexane, corresponding to a lung uptake of about 17%. The postexposure alveolar excretion was about 10% of the total uptake. The main metabolites of n-hexane were identified and measured by capillary GC/MS in spot urine samples collected before, at the end, and 15 hours after the same working shift. Urinary concentrations were low, though related to n-hexane in the air. 2,5-Hexanedione in the end of shift samples gave the best estimate of overall exposure. About 3 mg/g creatinine of 2,5-hexanedione would correspond to about 50 ppm of n-hexane in the air (mean daily exposure).
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