Measurement of personal exposure to volatile organic compounds and particle associated PAH in three UK regions

Juana Mari Delgado Saborit, Noel J. Aquilina, Claire Meddings, Stephen Baker, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Roy M. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Personal exposures to 15 volatile organic compounds (VOC) and 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) of 100 adult nonsmokers living in three UK areas, namely London, West Midlands, and rural South Wales, were measured using an actively pumped sampler carried around by the volunteers for 5/1 (VOC/PAH) consecutive 24-h periods, following their normal lifestyle. Results from personal exposure measurements categorized by geographical location, type of dwelling, and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) are presented. The average personal exposure concentration to benzene, 1,3-butadiene, and benzo(a)pyrene representing the main carcinogenic components of the VOC and PAH mixture were 2.2±2.5 μg/m3, 0.4±0.7 μg/m 3, and 0.3±0.7 ng/m3 respectively. The association of a number of generic factors with personal exposure concentrations was investigated, including firstline property, traffic, the presence of an integral garage, and ETS. Only living in houses with integral garages and being exposed to ETS were identified as unequivocal contributors to VOC personal exposure, while only ETS had a clear effect upon PAH personal exposures. The measurements of personal exposures were compared with health-based European and UK air quality guidelines, with some exceedences occurring. Activities contributing to high personal exposures included the use of a fireplace in the home, ETS exposure, DIY (i.e., construction and craftwork activities), and photocopying, among others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4582-4588
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


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