OBJECTIVES--To investigate the possibilities of personal ambient monitoring and biological monitoring for methylpentane isomers. METHODS--The performance of activated carbon cloth to absorb 2- and 3-methylpentane was studied by experimental vapour exposure followed by solvent extraction and gas chromatography (GC). Urine from workers and rats exposed to 2- and 3-methylpentane was analysed by GC with or without acid or enzymatic hydrolysis. RESULTS--Carbon cloth absorbed 2- and 3-methylpentane linearly to exposures up to eight hours and to 400 ppm, and was sensitive enough to detect a 15 minute peak of exposure. The two isomers were clearly separated from hexane on a DB-1 column. For analysis of the urine, enzymatic hydrolysis was superior to acid hydrolysis. Exposure of rats to methylpentane vapours showed that 2-methyl-2-pentanol and 3-methyl-2-pentanol were excreted in urine in proportion to the dose of 2-methylpentane and 3-methylpentane, respectively. 2-Methyl derivatives of 1-, 3-, and 4-propanol, 2-methylpentane-2,4-diol, and 3-methyl-2-pentanol were minor metabolites. Analysis of urine from the exposed workers showed that 2-methyl- and 3-methyl-2-pentanol are leading urinary metabolites after exposure to the corresponding methylpentane. CONCLUSIONS--Diffusive sampling is applicable to monitor 2- and 3-methylpentane vapours as is the case for hexane vapour. 2-Methyl-2-pentanol and 3-methyl-2-pentanol will be markers of occupational exposure to 2-methylpentane and 3-methylpentane, respectively. Also, 2-methylpentane-2,4-diol might be a marker of exposure to 2-methylpentane.
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