Matrix interferences in the analysis of benzene in urine

L. Perbellini, M. Buratti, M. L. Fiorentino, S. Fustinoni, F. Pasini, S. Magnaghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The analysis of benzene in urine of the general population or of exposed workers can be performed with different methods using the 'purge and trap' or 'solid-phase microextraction' techniques in combination with gas chromatographic analysis and photoionisation or mass spectrometric detection. The published results, however, are deeply conflicting. Differences in sample preparation by different research groups and our own preliminary observations prompted us to investigate pre-analytical and analytical factors potentially capable of modifying the urinary benzene quantification results. Benzene concentrations were measured in 20 urine samples in relation to different conditioning conditions (at 24, 40 and 80°C) and at basic or acid pH. Urinary protein concentrations were measured in the same samples. Urine heating at 80°C yields benzene concentrations on average five times higher than at 24°C. On acidification of urine, the benzene released increases up to 28-fold in comparison to that obtained at uncorrected 'physiological' pH. Despite a widely scattered data distribution, a statistically significant linear correlation was found between 'heat-released' and 'acid-labile' benzene values. There was no correlation between total urinary proteins present in 'physiological' concentrations (between 12 and 110 mg/l) and the different kinds of benzene in urine. Our results could perhaps be explained if it is supposed that part of the benzene in urine is absorbed onto sediment, or bound to specific proteins, or derived from parent molecules and is released with pH modification or heat administration. Our observations may also help to explain why the urinary benzene concentrations reported by different investigators vary considerably even when environmental levels are comparable. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-264
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Chromatography B: Biomedical Sciences and Applications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Benzene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


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