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Tytgat J., Bruneel N., Stevens E.*, Daenens P.
Laboratory of Toxicology,*Laboratory of Clinical Immunology, University of Leuven, E. Van Evenstraat 4, *Kapucijnenvoer 33, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium

We present a case of 2 deceased workers exposed to water-activated polyurethane grout for water control and soil stabilization, containing methylenediphenyldiisocyanate (MDI), 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCE) and trichloroethylene ("Tri"). The pathologist provided us with specimens of various biological samples: blood, urine, kidney, liver, brain, and lung. The aim was to screen for the presence of solvents and specific IgE antibodies to MDI.

Methods. TCE, "Tri" and metabolites: The different biological matrices were homogenized on ice in a 1:5 dilution with distilled water. Headspace solid phase microextraction (HSPME) and GC/FID analysis were performed. Analytes were adsorbed directly onto a phase-coated fused silica fiber (100 µm polydimethylsiloxane, Supelco, USA) prior to insertion of the fiber into the injection port of the GC for thermal desorption (HP 5890 Series II, USA). MDI: Specific antibodies to MDI were measured using the Pharmacia CAP system (Pharmacia Diagnostics, Sweden).

Results. The major compound in the various matrices of the victims was "Tri" (5-20 mg/L). TCE was only found as minor component. From the known metabolites of "Tri" and TCE (i.e. chloral hydrate, 2,2,2-trichloroethanol, trichloroacetic acid, and monochloroacetic acid), 2,2,2-trichloroethanol could be detected in some of the matrices (e.g. kidney). This metabolite is a known biotransformation product of "Tri" and TCE. IgE determination specific for MDI was negative, indicating that the victims were not allergic to MDI or had not been immunized previously.

Conclusions. HSPME combined with GC allowed the identification of "Tri", TCE, and 2,2,2-trichloroethanol in various, often complex, biological matrices. No specific antibodies for MDI were detected. The solvents encountered in this case have hypnotic activity in man, which may have contributed to the cause of death.

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