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Urinary S-phenylmercapturic Acid as a Key Biomarker for Measuring Occupational Exposure to Low Concentrations of Benzene in Chinese Workers: A Pilot Study

Lv, Bi-hua MM; Song, Shi-zhen PhD; Zhang, Zhibing PhD; Mei, Yong PhD; Ye, Fang-li MB

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 319–325
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000098
Original Articles

Objective: This study analyzed the level of urinary S-phenylmercapturic acid (U-SPMA) for low benzene exposure in a group of Chinese shoe-making workers.

Methods: Urinary samples from 55 workers exposed to benzene at levels lower than 10 parts per million (ppm) were collected at postshift. U-SPMA level was determined using high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrography (HPLC/MS) method.

Results: Good linearity of U-SPMA was observed within the range from 10 to 320 μg/L (r = 0.9994). Concentration of airborne benzene ranged from 0.71 to 32.17 mg/m3, and three segments were divided with different levels of exposure (≤6.0, 6.0 to 10.0, 10 to 32.5 mg/m3), the median U-SPMA concentrations were 49.55, 102.15, and 335.69 μg/g Cr, respectively.

Conclusion: A good linear correlation was found between U-SPMA levels and airborne benzene concentrations. The selected method could be applied for detecting other working conditions in China.

From the Department of Pharmacy (Mr Lv), Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, China; School of Public Health (Drs Song, Zhang, and Mei, and Mr Ye), Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China; and Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology (Dr Zhang), Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Address correspondence to: Fang-li Ye, MB (or Yong Mei, PhD), School of Public Health, Huangjiahu Lake Campus, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430065, People's Republic of China (, or

There is no conflict of interest in this study.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine