Validity of different biomonitoring parameters in human urine for the assessment of occupational exposure to naphthalene

Arch Toxicol. 2019 Aug;93(8):2185-2195. doi: 10.1007/s00204-019-02468-9. Epub 2019 Jun 20.


Up to date, information on the validity of human biomonitoring (HBM) parameters of naphthalene exposure is poor. This study was performed to reveal the relation between occupational exposure to naphthalene and biological exposure markers. Therefore, ten lowly and highly exposed workers from the abrasives industry were selected to characterise a broad exposure range. Naphthalene in air was determined by personal air monitoring during one shift. For biological monitoring, pre- and post-shift urine samples collected on 2 days of a working week were analysed for 1,2-dihydroxynaphthalene (1,2-DHN), 1- and 2-naphthol, 1- and 2-naphthylmercapturic acid (NMA). The naphthalene concentration in air was in the range of 0.5 to 11.6 mg/m3. The biomarkers in urine showed post-shift concentration in the range of 114-51,809 µg/L for 1,2-DHN, 0.8-666 µg/L for 1-NMA, 2-2698 µg/L for 1-naphthol and 4-1135 µg/L for 2-naphthol, respectively. 2-NMA was not detected. The urinary levels increased significantly from pre- to post-shift for all analysed parameters and an accumulation over the working week was observed. Significant positive correlations were observed between 1,2-DHN, 1-NMA, 1- and 2-naphthol in post-shift urine samples and personal exposure to naphthalene in the air. 1-NMA and 1,2-DHN, 1- and 2-naphthol have been demonstrated as suitable biomarkers for naphthalene exposure monitoring. Of the determined biomarkers, 1,2-DHN is by far the metabolite with the highest concentration in the urine samples.

Keywords: Biomonitoring; Dihydroxynaphthalene; Mercapturic acid; Naphthalene; Naphthol; Urine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Monitoring / methods*
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Naphthalenes / metabolism*
  • Naphthols / urine
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*


  • Biomarkers
  • Naphthalenes
  • Naphthols
  • naphthalene
  • 1-naphthol
  • 1,2-dihydroxynaphthalene
  • 2-naphthol