The urinary excretion of hippuric acid and methylhippuric acid was studied in workers (233 subjects; 122 men and 111 women) exposed to toluene and xylenes in combination and in non-exposed controls (281 subjects; 141 men and 140 women) recruited from the same factories or factories of the same regions. Smoking and drinking habits of the subjects were obtained by medical interviews. From each worker, one urine sample was collected at the end of a shift and analysed for hippuric and methylhippuric acids by high performance liquid chromatography. Air samples for the estimation of toluene and xylenes were collected with diffusive personal samplers. There was a linear correlation between the time weighted average exposure either to toluene or xylene isomers and the concentrations of hippuric acid or methylhippuric acid isomers in urine. Essentially no difference was found in the correlation between quantitative exposure and excretion in the three xylene isomers. Comparison of the slopes of regression lines indicated the absence of metabolic interaction between toluene and xylenes at the measured concentrations. The metabolism of toluene and xylenes was significantly reduced among smokers or drinkers compared with non-smokers and non-drinkers.
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