Applicability of urinary benzene to biological monitoring of occupational and environmental exposure to very low benzene concentrations

P. Lovreglio, M. Carrieri, A. Barbieri, L. Sabatini, M. E. Fracasso, D. Doria, S. Iavicoli, I. Drago, M. N. D'Errico, M. Imbriani, F. S. Violante, G. B. Bartolucci, L. Soleo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To verify whether urinary benzene is an applicable biomarker of occupational exposure to very low concentrations of benzene, considering the influence of cigarette smoke and benzene-toluene co-exposure. Materials and methods. 23 filling station attendants with occupational exposure to benzene and 31 controls were analyzed. Occupational and environmental exposure was monitored and t,t-muconic acid (t,t-MA), S-phenylmercapturic acid (SPMA), urinary benzene and creatinine in the urine samples were tested. Results. Occupational exposure to benzene and toluene was significantly higher in the filling station attendants than in the controls, whereas t,t-MA, SPMA and urinary benzene were not different in the two groups. Instead, the smoker group showed significantly higher values for the above biomarkers than the non-smoker group, each of which included both exposed workers and controls. SPMA was dependent on airborne benzene and cigarette smoking, and urinary benzene only on cigarette smoking, while t,t-MA was not dependent on either of these variables. Conclusions. At very low concentrations of occupational exposure to benzene, urinary benzene is less valid than SPMA as a biomarker, even if both are strongly influenced by smoking habit. Abstention from smoking should therefore be recommended for at least two hours before urine collection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-46
Number of pages6
JournalGiornale Italiano di Medicina del Lavoro ed Ergonomia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • Biological monitoring
  • S-phenylmercapturic acid (SPMA)
  • T,t-muconic acid (t,t-MA)
  • Urinary benzene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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