Assessing human exposure to organic pollutants in the indoor environment
There is an ongoing probing of the role of chemicals in the indoor environment. The majority of potential target substances are so‐called very volatile, volatile, and semi‐volatile organic compounds (VVOCs, VOCs, and SVOCs). Depending on their physical properties and the mass transfer conditions, they are distributed in or between the gas phase, particle phase, settled house dust, surface films, clothing, and other fabrics as well as the exposed skin and hair of the occupants themselves. Therefore, inhalation, ingestion, and dermal uptake all must be considered as relevant pathways for exposure assessment in human habitats. Exposure to VVOCs, VOCs, and SVOCs can be estimated by measuring their concentrations in relevant indoor compartments or by determining the amounts of the target compounds and/or their metabolites in urine and blood. Assessing the various routes of exposure often requires a combination of sophisticated and interdisciplinary theoretical background and experimental techniques. Consequently, close communication and collaboration between chemical and exposure scientists are needed to achieve a better understanding of human exposure to chemical substances in various indoor environments. Embedded in the toxicological context, this is the basis for assessing the corresponding health risks and for determining control strategies or approaches to limit such risks.