Biomarkers : biochemical indicators of exposure, response, and susceptibility to chemicals

Urinary metabolites of workers exposed to nitrotoluenes.

PMID 16097390


Nitrotoluenes are important intermediates in the chemical industry. 2,6-Dinitrotoluene (26DNT), 2,4-dinitrotoluene (24DNT) and 2-nitrotoluene (2NT) are carcinogenic in animals and possibly carcinogenic in humans. Thus, it is important to develop methods to biomonitor workers exposed to such chemicals. The authors have monitored the air and urine metabolite levels for a group of workers in China exposed to 24DNT, 26DNT, 2NT and 4-nitrotoluene (4NT). The metabolites 2,4-dinitrobenzylalcohol (24DNBAlc), 2-amino-4-nitrobenzoic acid (2A4NBA), 4-amino-2-nitrobenzoic acid (4A2NBA) and 2,4-dinitrobenzoic acid (24DNBA) resulting from exposure to 24DNT were found in 89, 88, 91 and 78% of the exposed workers, respectively. The metabolites 2,6-dinitrobenzylalcohol (26DNBAlc) and 2,6-dinitrobenzoic acid resulting from 26DNT exposure were found in 99 and 86% of the exposed workers, respectively. Quantitatively, 2A4NBA, 4A2NBA and 26DNBAlc were the major metabolites. The nitrobenzoic acids were the major metabolites resulting from exposure to 2NT and 4NT and were present in 96 and 73% of the exposed workers, respectively. Air concentrations of DNT and 2NT did not correlate with the levels of metabolites in the urine. In conclusion, the dinitrobenzyl alcohols and aminonitrobenzoic acids determined in the urine provided a good marker for recently absorbed dose and were intrinsically related to the bioactivation and detoxification pathways of DNT. Air measurements were not a good measure to predict internal exposure.