Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1985;11(5):381-387    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.2209 | Issue date: Oct 1985

Urine phthalate determinations as an index of occupational exposure to phthalic anhydride and di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate.

by Liss GM, Albro PW, Hartle RW, Stringer WT

Although it has been estimated that over 600 000 workers in the United States are exposed to di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), an animal carcinogen, and that over 100 000 are exposed to phthalic anhydride (PA), few data are available on levels of phthalates in biological fluids of these workers. For a determination of occupational exposure to PA and DEHP at a plant manufacturing DEHP from PA and 2-ethylhexanol, air samples were taken for PA and DEHP, and pre- and postshift urine samples were collected for the determination of total phthalates. Urine samples were obtained from 48 workers in jobs with high exposure to phthalates and from 47 workers in jobs with low exposure. The airborne concentrations of DEHP ranged from 20 to 4 110 micrograms/m3, and the concentrations of PA ranged from 4 to 203 micrograms/m3. The most heavily exposed workers had the highest mean postshift urine phthalate concentration (geometric mean 7.6 nmol/ml) (p = 0.015), and also the greatest mean increase (4.4 nmol/ml) in preshift to postshift urine phthalate levels. Twofold increases over the shift in urine phthalate concentration and postshift phthalate levels of greater than 10 nmol/ml were observed in 8 (25%) of 32 chemical operators, but in none of 52 other workers. These data suggest that measurement of urine phthalate levels may have utility for monitoring the exposure of workers manufacturing or using PA.