Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1979;5(2):143-150    pdf


Percutaneous absorption of m-xylene from a mixture of m-xylene and isobutyl alcohol in man

by Riihimäki V

Xylene is a common solvent and thinner in paints and varnishes, and it is frequently accompanied by other types of solvents, for instance, isobutyl alcohol. Percutaneous absorption of xylene was studied under conditions in which both hands were immersed once for 15 min in pure m-xylene, in a mixture of equal parts of m-xylene and isobutanol, and in a 1 : 1 mixture of m-xylene and isobutanol saturated with water. Estimates for absorption were derived from the postexposure urinary and pulmonary excretion of xylene. Immersion of the hands in a mixture of equal parts of xylene and isobutanol saturated with water showed a nearly identical percutaneous absorption of xylene when compared to corresponding exposure to pure xylene. The rate of absorption was on the order of 20 nmol per square centimeter per minute. In a similar exposure to equal parts of xylene and isobutanol without water the total absorption of xylene was 50 010 smaller than during the other types of exposure and the absorption seemed to be delayed. This phenomenon was probably associated with the conspicuous dehydration of the skin elicited by isobutanol. In work involving exposure to xylene and isobutanol, the latter is likely to dehydrate the skin and decrease the percutaneous absorption of both components initially, but after repeated exposures skin irritation may be enhanced and the permeability characteristics of the stratum corneum may be altered and possibly result in greater absorption.