Thioether concentrations were determined in urine samples obtained from ten workers in the despatch department (n = 69), three chemical waste incinerator operators (n = 67), and an analyst (n = 21), all working in the same chemical plant. Urine samples (n = 196) obtained from non-exposed men, including smokers, served as controls. Enhanced excretion of thioethers was found in urine samples taken from incinerator workers at the end of work. A regular pattern in the time course of the urinary thioether excretion was shown by a non-smoking incinerator worker; end-of-work values were always higher than prework values. This phenomenon was not found in samples obtained from the analyst. These findings suggest that incinerator workers inhale or otherwise absorb electrophilic compounds or their precursors, which are subsequently metabolised to, and excreted as, thioethers in urine.
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