Objectives: To determine the effectiveness of protective suits and gloves by biomonitoring.
Methods: Fifteen male spray painters at a ship coating factory were studied for two weeks. Workers wore no protective clothing during the first week and wore protective suits and gloves during the second week. Sampling was conducted on four consecutive working days each week. Ethyl benzene and xylene in the air were collected by using 3M 3500 organic vapour monitors. Urine was collected before and after each work shift.
Results: Urinary mandelic acid MA and methyl hippuric acid MHA levels were divided by the personal exposure concentrations of ethyl benzene and xylene, respectively. Mean SE corrected MA and MHA concentrations in the first week were 1.07 0.18 and 2.66 0.68 mg/g creatinine/mg/m3, and concentrations in the second week were 0.50 0.12 and 1.76 0.35 mg/g creatinine/mg/m3 in the second week, respectively. Both MA and MHA concentrations in the second week when spray painters wore protective suits and gloves were lower than in the first week, respectively p<0.001, p0.011. Mean decrease in MA and MHA biomarkers were 69 and 49, respectively.
Conclusion: This study successfully evaluated the effectiveness of chemical protective suits and gloves by using biomarkers as urinary MA and MHA. This method is feasible for determining the performance of workers wearing personal protective equipment. Moreover, the experimental results suggest that dermal exposure may be the major contributor to total body burden of solvents in spray painters without protective suits and gloves.
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