Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1988;14(2):101-109    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.1947 | Issue date: Apr 1988

Percutaneous absorption of 2-butoxyethanol in man.

by Johanson G, Boman A, Dynesius B

The percutaneous absorption of the commonly used glycol ether 2-butoxyethanol (ethylene glycol monobutyl ether) was investigated in 12 exposure experiments with five men. The subject kept two or four fingers immersed in neat butoxyethanol for 2 h. Arterialized capillary blood samples were collected from the other hand before, during, and up to 4 h after the exposure and analyzed for butoxyethanol by gas chromatography. Urine was collected for 24 h and analyzed for the metabolite butoxyacetic acid, also by gas chromatography. The presence of butoxyethanol in blood and of butoxyacetic acid in urine confirmed that butoxyethanol enters the systemic circulation in man in vivo during dermal exposure. Percutaneous uptake rates were calculated from measured blood levels of butoxyethanol with the use of kinetic parameters (clearance and volume of distribution) obtained in earlier experiments with the same subjects. The uptake rates ranged from 7 to 96 nmol.min-1.cm-2. The results indicate that persons exposing large portions of their skin to butoxyethanol are at risk of absorbing acutely toxic doses.