Plasma glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) concentration was studied in 12 volunteers producing gun powder. Serial blood samples were obtained from the cubital vein before and during work at two sites of production; high concentrations of GTN were detected in the plasma. Control specimens from a femoral vein contained much less GTN, indicating that blood in the cubital vein was enriched by dermally absorbed GTN. In the roll mill area concentrations of GTN in the cubital vein were higher than in the press area, but individual factors were also important since some workers consistently had higher concentration of GTN than others. Differences in absorption were more important than differences in the metabolism of GTN since only a small variation in disappearance rate was found after a sublingual test dose of GTN. Moderate changes in pulse rate and blood pressure were noted during the day. The major discomfort experienced was a headache that increased during working hours, but this was not significantly related to GTN concentrations in the air or in the blood from the cubital vein. The observations imply that major efforts should be made to reduce dermal contact with GTN during production work.
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