Journal Article

Use of Real-Time Breath Analysis and Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Modeling to Evaluate Dermal Absorption of Aqueous Toluene in Human Volunteers

Karla D. Thrall, Karl K. Weitz and Angela D. Woodstock

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 68, issue 2, pages 280-287
Published in print August 2002 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online August 2002 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/68.2.280
Use of Real-Time Breath Analysis and Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Modeling to Evaluate Dermal Absorption of Aqueous Toluene in Human Volunteers

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Toluene is a ubiquitous chemical that is commonly used for its solvent properties in industry and manufacturing, and is a component of many paint products. Although human exposure to toluene is most likely to be through inhalation, toluene is also found in well and surface water. Therefore, an assessment of the dermal contribution to total toluene uptake is useful for understanding human exposures. To evaluate the significance of these exposures, the dermal absorption of toluene was assessed in human volunteers using a combination of real-time exhaled breath analysis and physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling. Human volunteers wearing swimsuits were submerged in warm tap water to neck level in a stainless steel hydrotherapy tub containing an initial concentration of approximately 500-μg/l toluene. Volunteers were provided purified breathing air to eliminate inhalation exposures, and exhaled breath was continually analyzed before, during, and post exposure to track the absorption and subsequent elimination of the compound in real time. A PBPK model was used to estimate the dermal permeability coefficient (Kp) to describe each set of exhaled breath data from 4–6 human volunteers. An average Kp value of 0.012 ± 0.007 cm/h was found to provide a good fit to all data sets. Volunteers also participated in a second study phase, in which the subject was allowed to breathe the room air during immersion, thus both dermal and inhalation exposures to toluene occurred. Exhaled breath analyses revealed that concurrent inhalation of volatilized toluene resulted in a transient increase in the peak exhaled-breath level by 100 ppb, or an approximate 50% increase over breath levels observed in dermal-only studies. For perspective, the total intake of toluene associated with oral consumption of 2 liters of water containing toluene at bath water concentrations were estimated to be more than 30 times greater than the dermal contribution due to bathing.

Keywords: dermal; toluene; human; aqueous; PBPK; breath analysis

Journal Article.  5541 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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