Purpose: In recent years, an increase of occupational respiratory diseases, such as asthma caused by methacrylates, has been observed in dental personnel. In this study, the exposure of dental personnel to various volatile methacrylates was investigated. Materials and Methods: The air levels of methacrylates were measured during filling treatment while bonding agents were used in 4 dental practices in Munich, Germany. Short-term air sampling (15 min) was performed using solid phase microextraction (SPME). The SPME fibers were coated with carbowax/divinyl benzene to enrich the analytes. For analysis, the analytes were thermically desorbed from the fiber and subsequently analyzed directly by gas chromatography/ mass spectrometry. Results: The methacrylates methyl methacrylate (MMA), 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA), ethylene glycol dimethacrylate (EGDMA), and triethylene glycol dimethacrylate (TEG-DMA) were identified in the air of dental practices. The exposure levels of the four methacrylates varied during the filling treatments. The maximum concentrations found were 0.4 mg/m3 for MMA, 45 μg/m3 for HEMA, 13 μg/m3 for EGDMA, and 45 μg/m3 for TEG-DMA. The detection of TEG-DMA correlated with the application of bonding agents during performance of dental fillings. Conclusion: Exposure levels of different methacrylates were observed at all investigated dental practices. The maximum levels of MMA measured in this study were at least 200 times lower than the toxicologically relevant maximum allowable concentrations defined in various countries. Nevertheless, the exposure levels of methacrylates should be kept as low as possible due to the allergenic potential of some methacrylates.
Keywords: methacrylates, bonding agents, air monitoring, dental practices, respiratory diseases