Ethylene Oxide Distribution in Human Blood
Ethylene oxide is a proven carcinogen in laboratory animals and a suspected carcinogen in humans (IARC 1985). Determination of the level of ethylene oxide in whole blood and alveolar air has been recommended for monitoring of occupational exposure (Brugnone et al 1985 and 1986), based on the report of a linear correlation between the concentration of the substance in ambient air, alveolar air and whole blood (DFG 1989). Others favour the determination of hydroxyethylated amino acids in hemoglobin as the most suitable biomonitor (ECETOC 1989; Farmer et al 1986). This is however only possible if no enzymatic metabolism of the substance takes place in human blood. Such a metabolism is often subjected to genetically determined interindividual differences. An enzyme polymorphism has been described for aromatic amines (Lewalter and Korallus 1985). Two distinct subpopulations of conjugators and non-conjugators have also been described for the enzymatic reaction of several methyl halides with glutathione in human erythrocytes (Peter et al 1989; Hallier et al 1990). The distribution and possible metabolism of ethylene oxide in human blood have however not yet been investigated with sensitive methods.
KeywordsEthylene Oxide Human Erythrocyte Blood Compartment Mercapturic Acid High Molecular Weight Fraction
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