a-Hydroxyisobutyric Acid (from MTBE)

Optimal Result: 0 - 6.7 mmol/mol creatinine.

a-Hydroxyisobutyric Acid is a toxic breakdown product related to MTBE.

What is MTBE?

Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) is a flammable liquid that has been used as an additive for unleaded gasoline since the 1980s. MTBE increases octane and oxygen levels in gasoline and reduces pollution emissions. Because of concerns for groundwater contamination and water quality, MTBE is now banned or limited in several states. MTBE is also used in small amounts as a laboratory solvent and for some medical applications.

How might you be exposed to methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE)?

- Touching the skin or breathing contaminated air while pumping gasoline.

- Breathing exhaust fumes while driving a car.

- Breathing air near highways or in cities.

- Drinking, swimming, or showering in water that has been contaminated with MTBE.

- Receiving MTBE treatment for gallstones.

How MTBE Affects People’s Health

The human health effects from MTBE at low environmental doses are unknown. Animal studies involving high doses of MTBE have shown effects such as skin and eye irritation.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/MTBE_FactSheet.html

https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=227&tid=41

What does it mean if your a-Hydroxyisobutyric Acid (from MTBE) result is too high?

Potential intervention:

- Avoidance of MTBE

- Carbon-water filter

- Hydration

- Antioxidants

The detoxification markers, like a-Hydroxyisobutyric Acid, reflect increased exposure to environmental toxins, or up-regulation of detoxification pathways in response to stress. Collectively, when these markers are elevated:

1. Identify the source of toxin exposure.

2. Minimize or reduce exposure.

3. Consider the use of antioxidants, like glutathione, plus other nutrients and botanicals to support detoxification.

4. Helpful websites:

a. Tox Town https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov

b. Environmental Working Group https://www.ewg.org

c. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov

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