Diesel exhaust (DE) is a significant contributor to the toxicity associated with particulate matter (PM). 1-Nitropyrene (1-NP) has been used as a molecular marker for DE, and the urinary metabolites of 1-NP have been proposed as biomarkers for exposure to DE. In this study, several urinary 1-NP metabolites were evaluated for their utility as markers of short-term exposures to DE. The study population was a cohort of 24 taxi drivers from Shenyang, China, who submitted urine samples collected before, after, and the next morning following their workshifts. The urinary metabolites studied were isomers of hydroxy-1-nitropyrene (3-, 6-, 8- OHNPs) and hydroxy-N-acetyl-1-aminopyrene (3-,6-, 8-OHNAAPs). Exposure to DE was estimated based on exposure to 1-NP in air samples collected during and after the driver's workshift; 6- and 8-OHNP, and 8-OHNAAP were consistently detected in the drivers' urine. Concentrations of the metabolites in the taxi drivers' urine were greater than metabolite levels previously reported in non-occupationally exposed subjects; however no associations were observed between subject-specific exposures to 1-NP and urinary metabolites measured at the end of the workshift or in the next morning void. Significant autocorrelation was observed in metabolite levels in successive urine samples, from which half-lives for urinary elimination of ~10-12 h were estimated. These observations suggest that, in an occupational setting, urinary 1-NP metabolites may be more suitable as markers of ongoing exposure (timescales of several days) rather than indicators of acute exposure associated with single workshifts.
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