OBJECTIVES: To evaluate exposure to mixed solvents containing ethylene glycol monoethyl ether acetate (EGEEA) in shipyard painters, to determine if EGEEA is toxic to the bone marrow. METHODS: An industrial hygiene survey was performed to identify exposure to EGEEA of two groups of shipyard painters, a low exposure group (n = 30) and a high exposure group (n = 27). Urinary ethoxyacetic acid and methyl hippuric acid as well as haemoglobin, packed cell volume, red cell indices, total and differential white blood cell counts (WBCs), and platelet count for the shipyard painters and the control subjects were measured. RESULTS: The mean (range) exposure concentration (ppm) to EGEEA in the high and low exposure groups were 3.03 (not detectable to 18.27), 1.76 (not detectable to 8.12), respectively. The concentrations of methyl hippuric acid and ethoxyacetic acid in the high exposure group were significantly higher than those in the control group. The mean WBCs in the high exposure group were significantly lower than in the control group, and a significant proportion, six (11%) of the 57 painters, were leucopenic; none of the controls were affected. CONCLUSION: The high rate of possible haematological effects among shipyard painters and a hygienic evaluation of their working environment in the present study suggests that EGEEA might be toxic to bone marrow.
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