Absorption

Tetrachloroethylene can be absorbed through the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, and to a lesser extent through the skin. Inhalation is the main route of exposure in the occupational setting. The pulmonary uptake of tetrachloroethylene is approximately 60% (Monster et al., 1979; Imbriani et al., 1988). The initial uptake of tetrachloroethylene is rapid but then declines as blood and body tissues become saturated (Fernandez et al., 1976; Monster et al., 1979). The concentration of tetrachloroethylene in alveolar air samples correlates with the exposure concentration (Lauwerys et al., 1983; Aggazzotti et al., 1994; Altmann et al., 1995). Exercise increases the uptake of tetrachloroethylene (Monster, 1979; Monster et al., 1979; Hake and Stewart, 1977; Stewart et al., 1977; Imbriani et al., 1988). A period of 30 minutes of moderate exercise during exposure to 100 ppm increased the blood concentration approximately four-fold over the expected concentration (Hake and Stewart, 1977).

Dermal absorption of tetrachloroethylene is less than that of other chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons and is unlikely to be a hazard under normal working conditions (Stewart and Dodd, 1964). The mean peak breath concentration of tetrachloroethylene after immersion of a subject's thumb in tetrachloroethylene for 40 minutes was 0.31 ppm, and 0.23 ppm 2 hours later (Stewart and Dodd, 1964).

The blood concentration of tetrachloroethylene approximately one hour after ingestion of 545-727 mg/kg (total 8-10 ml) in a 6 year old child was 22 mg/l (Koppel et al., 1985).

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