Title: Characterization of Urban Inhalation Exposures to Benzene, Formaldehyde and Acetaldehyde in the European Union: Comparison of Measured and Modelled Exposure Data
Publication Year: 2008
JRC N°: JRC45026
ISSN: 0944-1344
URI: http://www.springerlink.com/content/112851/
DOI: 10.1007/s11356-008-0013-4
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Background, aim, and scope: All across Europe, people live and work in indoor environments. On average, people spend around 90% of their time indoors (homes, workplaces, cars, and public transport means, etc.) and are exposed to a complex mixture of pollutants at concentration levels that are often several times higher than outdoors. These pollutants are emitted by different sources indoors and outdoors and include Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), carbonyls (aldehydes and ketones) as well as other chemical substances often adsorbed on particles. Moreover, legal obligations opposed by legislations such as the European Union¿s General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) and Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), increasingly require detailed understanding of where and how chemical substances are used throughout their life-cycle and require better characterization of their emissions and exposure. This information is essential to be able to control emissions from sources aiming at a reduction of adverse health effects. Good scientifically-sound human risk assessment procedures based on qualitative and quantitative human exposure information allows a better characterization of population exposures to chemical substances. In this context, the current paper compares inhalation exposures to three health-based EU priority substances, i.e. benzene, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Materials and methods: Distributions of urban population inhalation exposures, indoor and outdoor concentrations were created on the basis of measured AIRMEX data in 12 European cities and compared to results from existing European population exposure studies published within the scientific literature. By pooling all EU city personal exposure, indoor and outdoor concentration means, representative EU city cumulative frequency distributions were created. Population exposures were modelled with a microenvironment model using the time spent and concentrations in four microenvironments, i.e. indoors at home and at work, outdoors at work and in transit, as input parameters. Pooled EU city inhalation exposures were compared to modelled population exposures. The contributions of these microenvironments to the total daily inhalation exposure of formaldehyde, benzene and acetaldehyde were estimated. Inhalation exposures were compared to the EU annual ambient benzene air quality guideline (5 µg/m3¿to be met by 2010) and the recommended (based on the INDEX project) 30-min average formaldehyde limit value (30 µg/m3). Conclusions: In the present study, inhalation exposures of urban populations were assessed on the basis of novel and existing exposure data. The indoor residential microenvironment contributed most to the total daily urban population inhalation exposure. The results presented in this paper, suggest that a significant part of the populations living in European cities exceed the annual ambient benzene air quality guideline of 5 µg/m3 in the EU and recommended (INDEX-project) formaldehyde 30-min average limit value of 30 µg/m3.
JRC Institute:Institute for Health and Consumer Protection

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