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Sci Total Environ. 2015 Feb 15;506-507:644-55. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.07.038. Epub 2014 Jul 23.

Mineral oil in human tissues, part II: characterization of the accumulated hydrocarbons by comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography.

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Official Food Control Authority of the Canton of Zurich, Zurich, Fehrenstrasse 15, P.O. Box 1471, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland.
Università di Udine, Dipartimento di Scienze degli Alimenti, via Sondrio 2/A, I-33100 Udine, Italy.
Clinical Institute for Pathology, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, A-1090 Wien, Austria.
Department of Pathology, Danube Hospital, Langobardenstr. 122, A-1220 Vienna, Austria.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Innsbruck Medical University, Anichstr. 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.
Official Food Control Authority of the Canton of Zurich, Zurich, Fehrenstrasse 15, P.O. Box 1471, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland. Electronic address:


Mineral oil hydrocarbons are by far the largest contaminant in the human body. Their composition differs from that in the mineral oils humans are exposed to, and varies also between different tissues of the same individual. Using the presently best technique for characterizing the composition of mineral oil hydrocarbons, comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GC×GC), the hydrocarbons in human tissues were compared to those of various mineral oils. This provided information about the strongly accumulated species and might give hints on the flow path through the human body. The selectivity of accumulation is probably also of interest for the risk assessment of synthetic hydrocarbons (polyolefins). GC×GC grouped the MOSH into classes of n-alkanes, paraffins with a low degree of branching, multibranched paraffins and naphthenes (alkylated cyclic hydrocarbons) with 1-4 rings. Metabolic elimination was observed for constituents of all these classes, but was selective within each class. The MOSH in the subcutaneous abdominal fat tissues and the mesenteric lymph nodes (MLN) had almost the same composition and included the distinct signals observed in mineral oil, though in reduced amounts relative to the cloud of unresolved hydrocarbons. The MOSH in the liver and the spleen were different from those in the MLN and fat tissue, but again with largely identical composition for a given individual. Virtually all constituents forming distinct signals were eliminated, leaving an unresolved residue of highly isomerized hydrocarbons.


Abdominal fat tissue; Accumulation; Liver; Mesenteric lymph nodes; Mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons (MOSH); Spleen

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