Determination of specific mercapturic acids as an index of exposure to environmental benzene, toluene, and styrene

Luciano Maestri, Sergio Ghittori, Marcello Imbriani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Methods were developed for the determination of urinary phenylmercapturic acid (PMA), a metabolite specific for benzene, benzylmercapturic acid (BMA), a metabolite of toluene and phenylhydroxyethylmercapturic acids (PHEMAs), specific for styrene, in human beings. Methods involved sample clean up followed by deacetylation and derivatization of the compounds with ophthaldialdehyde and 2-mercaptoethanol. The fluorescent derivatives were separated on reversed-phase columns with gradient runs and detected by a fluorescence detector. The detection limits were 0.5 μg/l for PMA and BMA, and 7 μg/l for PHEMAs. The background levels of PMA were higher in smokers than in nonsmokers, while no difference was found in the levels of BMA and PHEMAs. Coexposure to ethanol enanched the excretion of BMA in subjects experimentally exposed to toluene. Correlations were found between environmental benzene (r=0.74, log transformed data), toluene (r=0.74) or styrene (r=0.56) and specific mercapturic acids in workers. The usefulness of PMA, BMA and PHEMAs as biomarkers is critically evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-501
Number of pages13
JournalIndustrial Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Benzene
  • Biomarkers
  • Fluorescence
  • HPLC
  • Mercapturic acids
  • Styrene
  • Toluene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Determination of specific mercapturic acids as an index of exposure to environmental benzene, toluene, and styrene'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this