A 5 year study is reviewed of personal exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) counting exposure by all possible routes (air, food and water) to measure the actual total exposure experienced. After the pilot study, further work was limited to air and water sampling. Special equipment was designed for the study. A total of 5,000 individual homes were screened initially in New Jersey to determine various demographic data on the residents. Residents carried sample collectors to work or school and had different cartridges for air sampling at home. The ultimate aim of the study was to estimate frequency distributions of exposures of 130,000 people living in Bayonne and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Additional studies were conducted in Greensboro, North Carolina, a farming area of North Dakota, and finally, Los Angeles, California during the winter season. The investigators concluded that personal monitoring is a useful tool for measuring exposures of people and that the breath measurement method was very sensitive. Indoor exposures were much greater than outdoor concentrations with major sources being building materials and consumer products. No particular differences were noted in indoor exposures between individuals living close to chemical facilities and people living far away from such locations. Personal activities account for another major source of exposure with smoking, visits to dry cleaning establishments, and filling the gas tank of the car causing severe exposure elevations. Indeed, a 5 minute visit to the dry cleaners increased the breath concentration of tetrachloroethylene (127184) by a factor of two. The concentration of benzene (71432) was 100 times normal levels during the filling of the gas tank. The main source of chloroform (67663) in the home may be the hot shower.
Proceedings of the Fourth NCI/EPA/NIOSH Collaborative Workshop: Progress on Joint Environmental and Occupational Cancer Studies, April 22-23, 1986, Rockville, Maryland, NIH Publication No. 88-2960