Time weighted average concentrations of benzene in breathing zone air (measured by diffusive sampling coupled with FID gas chromatography) and concentrations of catechol and quinol in the urine (collected at about 1500 in the second half of a working week and analysed by high performance liquid chromatography) were compared in 152 workers who were exposed to benzene (64 men, 88 women). The concentration of urinary metabolites was also determined in 131 non-exposed subjects (43 men, 88 women). There was a linear relation between the benzene concentrations in the breathing zone and the urinary concentrations of catechol and quinol (with or without correction for urine density) in both sexes. Neither catechol nor quinol concentration was able to separate those exposed to benzene at 10 ppm from those without exposure. The data indicated that when workers were exposed to benzene at 100 ppm about 25% of benzene absorbed was excreted into the urine as phenolic metabolites, of which 13.2%, 1.6%, and 10.2% are phenol, catechol, and quinol, respectively.
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