Urinary excretion of unmetabolized benzene as an indicator of benzene exposure

J Toxicol Environ Health. 1993 Mar;38(3):233-43. doi: 10.1080/15287399309531715.


Benzene concentrations in urine samples (Cu, ng/L) from 110 workers exposed to benzene in chemical plants and gasoline pumps were determined by injecting urine supernate into a gas chromatograph. The urine was saturated with anhydrous N2SO4 to facilitate the passage of benzene in the air over the urine. The solvent was stripped from the urine surface and concentrated on an adsorbent substrate (Carbotrap tube) by means of a suction pump (flow rate 150 ml/m). Wash-up of the head space was achieved by simultaneous intake of filtered air through charcoal. Benzene was thermically desorbed and injected in a column (thermal tube disorder, Supelco; 370 degrees C thermal flash; borosilicate capillary glass column SPB-1, 60 m length, 0.75 mm ID, 1 microns film thickness; GC Dani 8580-FID). Benzene concentrations in the urine from 40 non-exposed subjects (20 smokers > 20 cigarette/d and 20 nonsmokers) were also determined [median value of 790 ng/L (10.17 nmol/L) and 131 ng/L (1.70 nmol/L), respectively]. The 8-h time-weighted exposure intensity (Cl, micrograms/m3) of individual workers was monitored by means of charcoal tubes. The median value for exposure to benzene was 736 micrograms/m3 (9.42 mumol/m3) [geometric standard deviation (GSD) = 2.99; range 64 micrograms/m3 (0.82 mumol/m3) to 13,387 micrograms/m3) (171.30 mumol/m3)]. The following linear correlation was found between benzene concentrations in urine (Cu, ng/L) and benzene concentrations in the breathing zone (Cl, micrograms/m3): log(Cu) = 0.645 x log(Cl) + 1.399 r = .559, n = 110, p < .0001 With exclusion of workers who smoked from the study, the correlation between air benzene concentration and benzene measured in urine was: log(Cu) = 0.872 x log(Cl) + 0.6 r = .763, n = 63, p < .0001 The study results indicate that the urinary level of benzene is an indicator of occupational exposure to benzene.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Benzene / analysis*
  • Benzene / pharmacokinetics
  • Chemical Industry*
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Female
  • Gasoline*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Smoking
  • Urine / chemistry*


  • Gasoline
  • Benzene