OBJECTIVES: To examine the correlation between airborne 2-methoxy ethanol (ME) exposures and the urinary 2-methoxy acetic acid (MAA) and to recommend a biological exposure index (BEI) for ME. METHODS: 8 Hour time weighted average (TWA) personal breathing zone samples and urine samples before and after the shift were collected from Monday to Saturday for 27 workers exposed to ME and on Friday for 30 control workers. RESULTS: No correlation was found between airborne exposure to ME and urinary MAA for nine special operation workers due to the use of personal protective equipment. For 18 regular operation workers, a significant correlation (r = 0.702, p = 0.001) was found between urinary MAA (mg/g creatinine) on Friday at the end of the shift and the weekly mean exposures of ME in a 5 day working week. The proposed BEI, which corresponds to exposure for 5 days and 8 hours a day to 5 ppm, extrapolated from the regression equation is 40 mg MAA/g creatinine. A significant correlation was also found between the weekly increase of urinary MAA (Friday after the shift minus Monday before the shift) and the weekly mean exposures of ME (r = 0.741). The recommended value of the weekly increase of urinary MAA for 5 days repeated exposures of 5 ppm ME is 20 mg/g creatinine. No urinary MAA was detected in workers in the non-exposed control group. CONCLUSIONS: The Friday urinary MAA after the shift or the weekly increase of urinary MAA is a specific and a good biomarker of weekly exposure to ME.
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