Risk Groups

Individuals may differ in the metabolism of chemicals depending on their ethnic group owing, for example, to physiological differences in renal function, body size and composition, and genetic differences. However, this is a comparatively new area of research and the significance of these differences, particularly in terms of biological monitoring, has not been fully elucidated.

Jang et al. (1997) compared the differences in pharmacokinetics and urinary metabolite concentrations of several solvents in a small group of Caucasian and Oriental volunteers. In the case of tetrachloroethylene exposure (50 ppm for 6 hours) the Caucasian group had a higher (about 15%) average concentration of tetrachloroethylene in exhaled air after cessation of exposure than the Oriental group. There was no difference in the breath concentration during exposure. The Caucasian group also had higher (about 25%) average urinary concentrations of trichloroacetic acid. The average peak concentration was significantly higher in the Caucasians. Blood concentrations of tetrachloroethylene were similar in both groups.

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