Occupational exposure to tetrahydrofuran (THF) was studied by analysis of environmental air, blood, alveolar air, and urine from 58 workers in a video tape manufacturing plant. Head space gas chromatography (GC) with an FID detector was used for determination of THF concentration in alveolar air, urine, and blood. Environmental exposure to THF was measured by personal sampling with a carbon felt passive dosimeter. When the end of shift urinary THF concentrations were compared with environmental time weighted average (TWA) values, urinary THF concentration corrected for specific gravity correlated well with THF concentration in air (r = 0.88), and uncorrected urinary THF concentration gave a similar result (r = 0.86). Correction for creatinine in urine weakened the correlation (r = 0.56). For exposure at the TWA concentration of 200 ppm the extrapolated concentration of THF was 33 mumol/l in blood and 111.9 mumol/l (61 mumol/g creatinine) or 109 mumol/l at a specific gravity of 1.018 in urine. The correlation between exposure to THF and its concentration in exhaled breath and blood was low (r = 0.61 and 0.68 respectively). Laboratory methodological considerations together with the good correlation between urinary THF concentration and the environmental concentration suggest that THF concentration in urine is a useful biological indicator of occupational exposure to THF.
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