Gases and organic solvents in urine as biomarkers of occupational exposure: A review

M. Imbriani, S. Ghittori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A brief review of urine analysis in studies of occupational exposure to volatile organic compounds and gases is provided. Analysis of exhaled breath for volatile compounds does not have a long history in occupational medicine. A number of studies has been undertaken since the 1980s, and the methods are well enough accepted to be put forward as biological equivalents of threshold limit values (TLVs) for some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as acetone; methanol; methyl ethyl ketone (MEK); methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK); tetrahydrofurane; dichloromethane. In the last 20 years many scientific articles have shown that the urinary concentrations of unchanged solvents are correlated with environmental exposure and could be used for biological monitoring. The use of urine analysis of unchanged solvents in occupational applications is not yet widespread. Nonetheless, in the short time since its application, a number of important discoveries has been made, and the future appears bright for this branch of analysis. In this paper, the basic concepts and methodology of urine analysis are briefly presented with a critical revision of the literature on this matter. The excretion mechanisms of organic solvents in urine are discussed, with regard to biological variability, and the future directions of research are described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005


  • Biomarkers
  • Organic solvents
  • Urine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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