White spirit is well absorbed by inhalation. The aromatic components of white spirit are more efficiently absorbed and accumulate in the body more readily than the aliphatic components (Astrand et al., 1975). In a volunteer study where 15 subjects were exposed via inhalation (1,000 mg/m3; 167-190 ppm, for 30 minutes) to white spirit (83% aliphatic and alicyclic hydrocarbons, 17% aromatic hydrocarbons), it was determined that 59% of the aliphatic and alicyclic components, and 70% of the aromatic hydrocarbon components were absorbed (Astrand et al., 1975). Pedersen et al., (1987) exposed eight men to 100 ppm white spirit (99% aliphatics) for three hours and the calculated pulmonary uptake was 392 ± 38 mg. On further exposure of the same subjects to 100 ppm of white spirit for six hours daily on five consecutive days, pulmonary uptake was calculated at 3,464 ± 329 mg.

Blood concentrations of the aromatic components of inhaled white spirit have been shown to increase 2.0-fold during light to moderate exercise; for aliphatic components the increase was 2.5-fold (Astrand et al., 1975).

Petroleum distillates, including white spirit, are not well absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, however, following large ingestions of white spirit signs of systemic toxicity have occurred (Jouet et al., 1983).

There is no information available on the dermal absorption of white spirit in humans. In an animal study investigating the neurotoxicity of white spirit by percutaneous exposure, rats were exposed to three different types of white spirit:

(a) 60% aliphatics, 39.7% alicyclics, 0.3% aromatics;

(b) 61% aliphatics, 27.3% alicyclics, 11.7% aromatics;

(c) 83% alicyclics, 17% aromatics.

A tail skin area of 12 cm3 was exposed for a three hour period. The total absorbed dose of the three mixtures was: (a) 260 ± 80 mg, (b) 210 ± 40 mg, and (c) 240 ± 20 mg (Verkkala et al., 1984).

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