Population exposure to benzene: One day cross-sections in six European cities

15 November 2019

Ballesta, P.P., Field, R.A., Connolly, R., Cao, N., Caracena, A.B., De Saeger, E.

Atmospheric Environment, 2006, 40(18), 3355-3366

This paper describes the experimental methodology and basic results of the PEOPLE project (Population Exposure to Air Pollutants in Europe). Simultaneous diffusive measurements of outdoor, indoor and human exposure benzene concentrations were made during one day campaigns. Six cities were assessed, namely: Brussels and Lisbon (22 October 2002), Bucharest and Ljubljana (27 May 2003), Madrid (3 December 2003) and Dublin (28 April 2004). In general, human exposure to benzene was higher than concentrations reported at urban background monitoring sites. Traffic was the dominant source of benzene in all the six cities that were studied. The highest exposure levels from the commuting groups were car users. The control group, with no influence from commuting or smoking, reported concentrations closer to the background level of the city. The smoking group had the highest level of exposure. The level of exposure of school children was similar to that of the commuting groups. Indoor locations that were influenced by smoking sources, or with free access to busy streets, reported relatively high concentrations. The highest indoor concentrations were measured in bars and inside motor vehicles. When considering the six cities together, a linear relationship was evident between ambient levels and human exposure. Daily median values of human exposure for non-smoking commuters were 1.5 times the level of urban background and 0.6 times the maximum outdoor value (hotspot).