To determine the effect of petroleum exposure on the activity of hepatic mixed function oxidase enzymes, salivary elimination kinetics of antipyrine were determined in 19 petrol station attendants and compared with 19 controls. Antipyrine half life in petrol station attendants was shorter than in controls. Microsomal preparations (10 000 x g supernatants) were prepared from six male Porton rats exposed to petrol vapour (5 ppm at an air flow rate of 41/min for eight hours a day for three weeks) and six control rats maintained under the same conditions without exposure to petrol vapour. The rates of oxidative metabolism of antipyrine, aminopyrine, ethylmorphine, aniline, and benzo(a)pyrene were all increased by more than 45% in the petrol-exposed rats. The results indicate that petrol vapour is a moderately potent inducer of mixed function oxidase activity in rats, and that occupational exposure to petroleum may result in enhanced microsomal drug metabolism.
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