Personal exposure of children and adults to airborne benzene in four French cities

13 November 2019

Gonzalez-Flesca, N., Nerriere, E., Leclerc, N., Le Meur, S., Marfaing, H., Hautemanière, A., Zmirou-Navier, D.

Atmospheric Environment, 2007, 41(12), 2549-2558

Atmospheric concentrations of and personal exposure to benzene have been measured in four French metropolitan areas for 210 subjects over two seasons. Half of the volunteers were 6–13-year-old children. The adult subjects were non-smokers, not occupationally exposed and they live and work in the monitored areas. Measurements were performed using diffusive samplers followed by GC-FID analysis. The average values for ambient air concentrations (μg·m−3) were: Rouen: 1.5; Île de France (Paris area): 1.6; Grenoble: 2.3 and Strasbourg: 2.6, showing that benzene concentrations in the ambient air of the four cities satisfy the requirements of the European Directive 2000/69EC of the European Parliament which stipulates a limit value of 5 μg·m−3. However, the 48 h exposures measured were found to be between 2.7 and 3.5 times higher than ambient air concentrations. As a consequence, 60% of the subjects investigated, including children, were exposed to concentrations higher than the ambient air limit value. This work confirms that air monitoring data collected by fixed stations should be used with caution when assessing population exposure to benzene, especially given the influence of indoor sources and other polluted microenvironments where people spend part of their time.