Benzene exposure assessment at indoor, outdoor and personal levels. The French contribution to the Life MACBETH Programe

15 November 2019

Gonzalez-Flesca N., Bates M.S., Delmas V., Cocheo V.

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 65, 59-67

Many VOC represent hazards to human health through chronic exposure. Recent European and world-wide legislation proposes limit values for ambient concentrations of these compounds. However, very little experimental data exists for true population exposure. In 1996, the European MACBETH initiative set out to measure population exposure to benzene in six European cities. This study details the French contribution to this program. Six campaigns were carried out, each comprising measurements at 100 outdoor sites and the participation of 50 non-smoking volunteers who wore personal samplers and had passive monitors installed in their homes. Iso-concentration maps were drawn for each campaign and the results showed that outdoor concentrations were significantly lower than indoors. Almost 75% of the volunteers were exposed to mean concentrations higher than the limit value of 5 µg·m3. It is demonstrated that personal exposure levels cannot be deduced simply by combining indoor and outdoor background concentrations. It is also shown that there is need for better knowledge of the contributions to overall exposure of outdoor microenvironments and the authors hope that future European directives will take this into account.