No biological exposure index (BEI) has been established for NMP by ACGIH. The three metabolites 5-HNMP, MSI and 2-HMSI have been investigated as possible biomarkers for exposure to NMP (see metabolism) (Akesson and Jönsson, 1997). Methods are available for their determination in urine and plasma (Jönsson and Akesson, 1997a and b; Akesson and Jönsson, 2000). Plasma 5-HNMP is considered the best of these biomarkers (Akesson and Jönsson, 2000).

NMP is a cyclic amide and an aprotic, dipolar solvent (Solomon et al., 1996). Its strong and selective solvent capacity led to its introduction as a substitute for more inherently toxic solvents, e.g., dichloromethane, trichloroethane, trichloroethylene and glycol ethers.

NMP is readily absorbed via all routes. Most exposures are occupational, and inhalation and dermal routes are of most significance. There are few data regarding the toxic effects of NMP in humans; however, these along with animal studies suggest that this solvent is of low toxicity.

NMP is freely soluble in both polar and non-polar solvents. It can cross biological membranes readily and is efficiently absorbed by skin, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract (Wells and Digenis, 1988; Midgely et al., 1992; Akesson and Jonsson, 1997). The transcutaneous permeability rate of NMP was measured as 171 g/m2/h (157 cm3/m2/h) using living human skin (Ursin et al., 1995). After an 8 hour inhalation exposure to NMP the peak 5-HNMP concentrations occurred at 1 hour in plasma and zero to two hours in urine (Akesson and Jonsson, 2000).

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