Assessment through environmental and biological measurements of total daily exposure to volatile organic compounds of office workers in Milan, Italy

Indoor Air. 2000 Dec;10(4):258-68. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0668.2000.010004258.x.


Personal exposure to total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), benzene and toluene of 100 Milan office workers was assessed through personal air monitoring at home, in the office, and during commuting. Biological monitoring was performed by measuring blood benzene and toluene concentrations together with urinary trans-trans-muconic acid (t,t-MA) and cotinine at the end of the monitoring period. The geometric means of the total 24-h personal exposure were 514 micrograms/m3 for TVOCs, 21.2 micrograms/m3 for benzene and 35.2 micrograms/m3 for toluene. Daily exposure to the volatile organic compounds was almost totally determined by indoor exposure at home and in the office, with a minor contribution in the transport means. An important factor determining exposure to benzene was found to be tobacco smoke, both for active smokers and for non-smokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). All the mean levels of the biological indicators were significantly higher in active smokers than in non-smoking subjects non-exposed to ETS; urine cotinine and t,t-MA levels were also significantly higher in non-smokers exposed to ETS than in non-smokers non-exposed to ETS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Benzene / analysis
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Organic Chemicals / analysis*
  • Smoking
  • Sorbic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Sorbic Acid / analysis
  • Toluene / blood
  • Volatilization


  • Organic Chemicals
  • Toluene
  • muconic acid
  • Benzene
  • Cotinine
  • Sorbic Acid