Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) in urine as biological index of exposure.

M. Imbriani, S. Ghittori, G. Pezzagno, E. Capodaglio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Fifteen human volunteers were exposed to methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) vapor at 11.9-621.8 mg/m3 for a period of 2 to 4 hours at rest (ten cases) and during light physical exercise (five cases). Subsequently 78 workers occupationally exposed to MEK in a manufacture of leather suitcases (median value: 75.5 mg/m3; geometrical standard deviation: 3.12 mg/m3; range: 6-790) were studied. The analyses were performed by means of a Gas Chromatograph (GC) Hewlett-Packard 5880 A connected with a Mass Selective Detector (MSD). The relative uptake (R) of MEK was about 0.54 (standard deviation: 0.05) and it keeps practically constant either at rest or during light effort (V <30 L/min). A linear relationship existed in the experimentally exposed subjects between urinary concentration (Cu) and amount of MEK absorbed (U) (Cu = 3.05 x U-162.1; r = 0.95; n = 15) (Cu = micrograms/L; U = mg). Both in the experimentally exposed subjects and in the occupationally exposed workers, the urinary concentration of MEK shoved a linear relationship to the corresponding environmental time-weighted average concentration (CI). The correlation coefficients (r) were 0.93 in occupationally exposed subjects (regression equation: Cu = 0.004 x CI + 0.118; n = 78); Cu = mg/L; CI = mg/m3) and more than 0.93 in experimentally exposed groups. The findings indicate that the urinary concentration of MEK can be used as an appropriate biological exposure indicator.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-261
Number of pages7
JournalGiornale Italiano di Medicina del Lavoro
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Rehabilitation

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