Technical Report No. 6
Western Australian Department of Environmental Protection, University of Western Australia, CSIRO Atmospheric Research, Monash University, Victorian Environment Protection Authority, New South Wales Health, NSW Environment Protection Authority, SA Environmental Protection Agency, Flinders University and Murdoch University
Environment Australia, April 2003
ISBN 0 6425 4907 9
- BTEX personal exposure monitoring in four Australian cities - Report excluding appendices (PDF - 370 KB)
- BTEX personal exposure monitoring in four Australian cities - Appendices (PDF - 803 KB)
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted from a range of sources and some elevated levels have been monitored in Australian cities. There are many international studies that have investigated the concentrations of selected VOCs associated with specific activities and occupational environments. There are also studies which have examined personal exposure to selected VOCs among specific sample groups, such as occupationally exposed individuals. However, there are limited personal exposure monitoring studies of VOCs, internationally or in Australia, which focus on the general community setting. Given the number of sources of VOCs in urban airsheds, the potential public health significance of some of these VOCs needs to be determined.
In response to urban air quality issues, the Commonwealth Government developed the Living Cities – Air Toxics Program. As part of this program, the Department of Environmental Protection (WA) developed and coordinated a four city study which aimed to investigate the exposure of the urban population to selected VOCs, in non-industrial settings. This study was funded by Environment Australia and was conducted in collaboration with the University of Western Australia, CSIRO Atmospheric Research, Murdoch University, NSW Health, NSW Environment Protection Authority, Victorian Environment Protection Authority, Monash University, SA Environmental Protection Agency and Flinders University. The selected VOCs considered were benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX). This report presents the results from a study investigating personal exposure monitoring of BTEX using passive sampling techniques.
A cross sectional study of personal exposure to BTEX of 207 randomly selected non-smoking, non-occupationally exposed participants was undertaken (individuals were from Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide). Each participant was requested to wear a passive BTEX sampler over 24 hours to monitor exposure to BTEX for 5 consecutive days. Participants were ask to complete a questionnaire prior to monitoring their exposure and fill in a diary while wearing the personal samplers. Sampling was conducted during winter and summer, to take into account any seasonal differences in exposure patterns.