This study was undertaken to determine whether previous subacute treatment with ethanol could modify the kinetics of m-xylene in humans. A group of six volunteers was exposed twice to either 100 or 400 ppm of m-xylene during two hours (between 0800 and 1000). Ethanol was given orally in the early evening on each of two consecutive days before exposures (total ethanol intake of 137 g). Such ethanol pretreatment affected the kinetics of m-xylene but only at the high exposure (400 ppm). The modifications were: (1) decreased concentration of m-xylene in blood and alveolar air during and after exposure; (2) increased urinary excretion of m-methylhippuric acid at the end of exposure. Ethanol treatment also enhanced the elimination of antipyrine in saliva. Overall, this study showed that the effect of enzyme induction on the metabolism of m-xylene, after ethanol ingestion, depends on the exposure concentration and is not likely to occur as long as the exposure concentrations remain under the current maximum allowable concentration (100 ppm) in the workplace.
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