The effect of a dose of alcohol on the kinetics of mandelic acid excretion in four volunteers exposed to 220 mg/m3 styrene has been investigated under controlled exposure chamber conditions. Ethanol inhibited the excretion of mandelic acid, so that the peak excretion was delayed from the end of the exposure period until three hours afterwards. One hour after administration of ethanol blood mandelic acid concentrations were 56% of the levels found during the alcohol-free control exposure, and this was paralleled by a 15-fold rise in phenylethane 1,2 diol, the metabolic precursor of mandelic acid. It is suggested that the inhibition of the oxidation of this diol is related to the change in NAD +/NADH ratio produced by ethanol metabolism. The implications of this ethanol effect on the interpretation of urinary mandelic acid excretion when monitoring workers exposed to styrene are discussed.
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