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Aromatic hydrocarbons in the atmospheric environment. Part III: Personal monitoring

: Ilgen, E.; Levsen, K.; Angerer, J.; Schneider, P.; Heinrich, J.; Wichmann, H.E.


Atmospheric environment 35 (2001), Nr.7, S.1265-1279
ISSN: 0004-6981
ISSN: 1352-2310
Fraunhofer ITA ( ITEM) ()
personal sampling; workplace; car cabin; benzene; aromatic compound; hydrocarbon; indoor air pollution

As part of a larger study, personal sampling of the aromatic hydrocarbons benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and the isomeric xylenes (BTEX) was carried out by 55 nonsmoking volunteers for a period of 14 days. Thirty-nine persons lived in a rural area near Hannover (Germany) with hardly any traffic at all, while 16 persons lived in a high-traffic city street in Hannover. The personal exposure level of the persons in the rural area (some commuting to Hannover) was: 2.9, 24.8, 2.4 and 7.7 µg m-3 for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and the sum of xylenes, respectively, while the corresponding data for the high traffic city streets were 4.0, 22.2, 2.8 and 9.7 µg m-3 (geometric means). Four microenvironments have been monitored which contribute to the total exposure to BTEX, i.e. the home, the outdoor air, the workplace and the car cabin. The most important microenvironment for non-working persons is the private home. The concentration of most BTEX in the private home is almost equal to the personal exposure level, demonstrating that the indoor pollution in the home makes by far the highest contribution to the total exposure. For working people (mostly office workers), the workplace is the second most important microenvironment contributing to the total BTEX exposure. Taking all working persons into consideration (independent of the location of their private home) the personal exposure level is higher by a factor of 1.2-1.4 than that of the workplace (for toluene this factor is 2.2). As already found by others, very high BTEX concentrations may be found in car cabins, in particular, if the engine is gasoline-driven. In the cabin of 44 cars in the rural/urban area average benzene concentrations (geometric mean) of 12/14 µg m-3 and a maximum value of ~550 µg m-3 were found. On average, the participating volunteers drove their car for 45 min day-1 (i.e. 3% of the day). Nevertheless, the car cabin constitutes about 10% of the total benzene exposure. Refueling of the car during the 14-day sampling period has only a small effect on the personal exposure level.