Nine male volunteers were exposed to 2H8-toluene (200 mg/m3 for two hours during a workload of 50 W) via inspiratory air with the aid of a breathing valve and mouthpiece. Labelled toluene was used to differentiate between hippuric acid originating from exposure to toluene and hippuric acid normally excreted in urine. The total uptake of toluene was 2.2 (standard deviation (SD) 0.2) mmol, or 50% of the amount inhaled. Four hours after the end of exposure 1.4 (SD 0.3) mmol or 65% of the total uptake had been excreted in urine as 2H-hippuric acid and 20 hours after the end of exposure the cumulative excretion of 2H-hippuric acid was 1.8 (SD 0.3) mmol, or 78% of the total uptake. By contrast the cumulative excretion of labelled plus unlabelled hippuric acid exceeded the total uptake of toluene already after four hours. The excretion rate of 2H-hippuric acid was highest, about 5 mumol/min, during exposure and the SD between the subjects was low. The background concentrations of unlabelled hippuric acid in urine were high, however, and there were large differences between subjects. These findings confirm earlier indications that for low exposure, urinary hippuric acid concentration cannot be used for biological monitoring of exposure to toluene.
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