Distribution

Tetrachloroethylene is highly lipophilic, and tissues with a high lipid content act as reservoirs; therefore the higher the lipid content the more tetrachloroethylene the tissue will retain. Using a mathematical model of a simulated eight hour exposure test, it was calculated that at the end of exposure half the tetrachloroethylene taken up is distributed to the tissues (Guberan and Fernandez, 1974). Individuals with a higher percentage of body fat can usually carry a higher body burden before clinical features of toxicity manifest (Feldman, 1999). The fat to blood ratio for tetrachloroethylene is 90:1 (Monster, 1979).

Tissue concentrations of tetrachloroethylene reported in fatal cases are given in Table 20.2. Tetrachloroethylene concentrations are usually highest in the brain and liver.

Table 20.2 Tetrachloroethylene tissue concentrations in fatal cases of poisoning

(mg/l)

Brain (mg/kg)

Kidney (mg/kg)

Liver (mg/kg)

Lung (mg/kg)

Urine (mg/kg)

Reference

Occupational accident

44

360

na

na

3

negative

Lukaszewski, 1979

Occupational accident

4.5

69

71

240

30

na

Levine et al., 1981

2 year-old child sleeping in a room with improperly dried curtains after cleaning

66

79

na

na

46

0.3 1.7 TCE 0.9 TCA

Gaillard et al., 1995; Garnier et al., 1996

Intentional abuse

62

na

na

341

47

na

Isenschmid et al., 1998

na = not analysed, TCE = trichloroethanol, TCA trichloroacetic acid

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