Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons inside and outside of apartments in an urban area

Sci Total Environ. 2004 Jun 29;326(1-3):143-9. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2004.02.002.


In the context of environmental monitoring in Berlin polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations in air and household dust were measured inside 123 residences (and simultaneously in a sub group in the air outside the windows). The aim of this study was to determine exposure to PAHs in the environment influencing by several factors, for instance, motor vehicle traffic in a populous urban area. Indoor air samplings were carried out in two periods (winter and spring/summer) in smokers and non-smokers apartments. Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) median values were 0.65 ng m(-3) (winter) and 0.27 ng m(-3) (spring/summer) in smokers' apartments and 0.25 ng m(-3) (winter) and 0.09 ng m(-3) (spring/summer) in the apartments of non-smokers. The median BaP content in ambient air was 0.10 ng m(-3) (maximum: 1.1 ng/m(-3)) with an indoor-outdoor mean concentration ratio of 0.9 in non-smoker households and 5.4 in smoker apartments. In household dust we obtained median values of 0.3 mg kg(-1) (range: 0.1-1.4 mg kg(-1)). We found a significant relation between indoor and outdoor values. Approximately 75% of the variance of indoor air values was caused by the corresponding BaP concentrations in the air outside the apartment windows. Otherwise a significant correlation between indoor air and household dust values cannot be found. Therefore, according to our results, it is suggested that the indoor PAH concentration in non-smoker apartments could be attributed mainly to vehicular emissions.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Dust
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Smoking
  • Urban Population
  • Vehicle Emissions


  • Air Pollutants
  • Dust
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Vehicle Emissions