Monitoring low benzene exposure: Comparative evaluation of urinary biomarkers, influence of cigarette smoking, and genetic polymorphisms

Silvia Fustinoni, Dario Consonni, Laura Campo, Marina Buratti, Antonio Colombi, Angela C. Pesatori, Matteo Bonzini, Pier A. Bertazzi, Vito Foà, Seymour Garte, Peter B. Farmer, Leonard S. Levy, Mauro Pala, Federico Valerio, Vincenzo Fontana, Arianna Desideri, Domenico F. Merlo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Benzene is a human carcinogen and an ubiquitous environmental pollutant. Identification of specific and sensitive biological markers is critical for the definition of exposure to low benzene level and the evaluation of the health risk posed by this exposure. This investigation compared urinary trans,trans-muconic acid (t,t-MA), S-phenylmercapturic acid, and benzene (U-benzene) as biomarkers to assess benzene exposure and evaluated the influence of smoking and the genetic polymorphisms CYP2E1 (RsaI and DraI) and NADPH quinone oxidoreductase-1 on these indices. Gas station attendants, urban policemen, bus drivers, and two groups of controls were studied (415 subjects). Median benzene exposure was 61, 22, 21, 9 and 6 μg/m3, respectively, with higher levels in workers than in controls. U-benzene, but not t,t-MA and S-phenylmercapturic acid, showed an exposure-related increase. All the biomarkers were strongly influenced by cigarette smoking, with values up to 8-fold higher in smokers compared with nonsmokers. Significant correlations of the biomarkers with each other and with urinary cotinine were found. A possible influence of genetic polymorphism of CYP2E1 (RsaI and/or DraI) on t,t-MA and U-benzene in subjects with a variant allele was found. Multiple linear regression analysis correlated the urinary markers with exposure, smoking status, and CYP2E1 (RsaI; R2 up to 0.55 for U-benzene). In conclusion, in the range of investigated benzene levels (3 or

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2237-2244
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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