Excretion of methylhippuric acids in urine of workers exposed to a xylene mixture: comparison among three xylene isomers and toluene

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1993;64(7):533-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00381104.


The correlation between exposure to three xylene isomers and resulting urinary excretion of corresponding methylhippuric acid (MHA) isomers was studied among 175 Chinese workers of both sexes who had been predominantly exposed to xylenes (exposure to xylenes accounting for 70% or more of the total exposure on a ppm basis). Nonexposed controls (281 men and women) were also studied to define the background level of MHAs in urine. The solvent exposure of xylene-exposed workers during their workshift was monitored by diffusive sampling of breathing zone air, and MHAs in shift-end urine were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography. Regression analysis showed that the concentration of each MHA isomer correlated significantly with the time-weighted average intensity of exposure to the corresponding xylene isomer, and therefore the correlation between the sum of three xylene isomers in air and that of three MHA isomers in urine was also significant; the slope of the regression line was essentially the same among the three isomers. The calculated regression line suggested that the urinary MHA level after hypothetical exposure to xylenes at 100 ppm will be somewhat less than the proposed biological exposure index and biological tolerance value. Two social habits of smoking and drinking in combination suppressed the conversion of xylenes to MHAs in male workers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hippurates / urine*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Toluene / adverse effects*
  • Xylenes / adverse effects*


  • Hippurates
  • Xylenes
  • 3-methylhippuric acid
  • 4-methylhippuric acid
  • Toluene
  • 2-methylhippuric acid
  • hippuric acid