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 m-xylene exposure (100 ppm for six hours) the Caucasian group had a higher average concentration of xylene in exhaled air than the Oriental group, but variation between the subjects in each group was so high that the difference was not significant. The Caucasian group had a higher urinary concentration of methylhippuric acid than the Oriental group until three hours after exposure, but after six hours there was no difference. The average peak concentration was also significantly higher in the Caucasian group. Immediately after cessation of exposure, the urinary concentration of methylhippuric acid was about 30% higher in the Caucasian group.

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