Evaluation of Exposure to Toluene and Xylene in Gasoline Station Workers

2021-05-20

The main volatile organic compounds found at gasoline stations are benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene isomers (BTEX). They cause several harmful effects on human health. Regulatory Norm 7 (1978) provides that, in Brazil, biological monitoring of toluene and xylene is carried out by measuring the urinary metabolites hippuric acid (HA) and methylhippuric acid (MHA), respectively. The objective of this study was to assess the exposure to toluene and xylene and to identify related signs and symptoms in gasoline station workers. A cross-sectional epidemiological study was conducted with workers occupationally exposed to fuels. These gasoline station workers were divided into two groups: 94 workers exposed mainly by inhalation (convenience store workers (CSWs)) and 181 workers exposed by inhalation and dermal route (filling station attendants (FSAs)). A comparison group was formed by 119 workers not occupationally exposed to fuels (office workers (OWs)). Workers exposed to fuels had higher average levels of these exposure biomarkers (HA and MHA), which were also higher in convenience store workers than in filling station attendants. In addition, individuals exposed to the solvents present in gasoline had altered mood/depression, cramps, dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, irritability/nervousness, weakness, weight loss, and other symptoms more frequently and had higher urinary levels of HA and MHA compared to the comparison group. Gasoline station workers showed high levels of HA and MHA, reflecting high occupational exposure to the solvents toluene and xylene present in gasoline, demonstrating that changes in the current legislation and in the work environment are necessary to ensure better health protection for these workers.

Authors: Barbara R Geraldino, Rafaella F N Nunes, Juliana B Gomes, Katia S da Poça, Isabela Giardini, Paula V B Silva, Helen P Souza, Ubirani B Otero, Marcia Sarpa
; Full Source: Advances in preventive medicine 2021 May 20;2021:5553633. doi: 10.1155/2021/5553633.