Indoor and outdoor personal exposure to benzene in Athens, Greece

15 November 2019

Chatzis, C., Alexopoulos, E.C., Linos, A.

Science of the Total Environment, 2005, 349(1-3), 72-80

Objective

To evaluate the exposure of urban inhabitants to atmospheric benzene in Athens, Greece.

Methods

Fifty non-smoker volunteers from selected occupational groups and their homes were monitored by passive air samplers for six 5-day periods during a year. An activity diary was completed during each sampling period and relevant data were collected by a questionnaire at the beginning of the study. Additional data on urban levels on benzene were also available.

Results

Average benzene home and personal levels in six monitoring campaigns varied between 6.0–13.4 and 13.1–24.6 μg/m3, respectively. Urban levels varied between 15.4 and 27.9 μg/m3 with an annual mean of 20.4 μg/m3. Wind speed seems to determine largely home levels and personal exposure. Proximity to busy road holds also an important influence on indoor benzene levels. Adjusted for seasonal or climate variation, other significant prognostic factors of personal exposure were home levels, total time spent outdoors and transportation mean. Time spent outdoors explains the strong relationship between occupation and personal levels of exposure. Wind had similar effect in clearing indoor and urban pollution in Athens; lessen personal exposure and home levels about 2–2.5 μg/m3 per 1 m/s increase in speed.

Conclusions

Factors related to climate (use of non-absorbent materials for wall and floor covering and frequent ventilation) might be one explanation for homes’ high clearing rate. Our exposure pattern, which suggests that outdoors work give the greater contribution to benzene exposure of Athens citizens, is uncommon in northern towns of Europe. Policy makers have to take in account these differences in establishing guidelines for ambient benzene exposure.