[Exposure to benzene of service station employees and composition of benzene]

Med Lav. Sep-Oct 1994;85(5):412-21.
[Article in Italian]


The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies gasoline vapours and exhaust fumes from gasoline fueled automobiles as potential human carcinogens. Data on the chemical composition of gasoline marketed in Italy and especially on the concentration of benzene, are rather poor. Within the framework of an investigation aimed at assessing the mean annual level of exposure to aromatic hydrocarbons among gasoline pump attendants, made on a sample of attendants in Rome between December 1991 and November 1992, samples of gasoline were also collected so as to determine the benzene content of the gasoline over the investigation period, assess the variability of benzene concentration in the various gasolines and according to the season of the year, and take account of gasoline composition in analysing the factors determining individual exposure levels of pump attendants. Benzene exposure was measured via gas chromatography of air samples obtained with personal pumps in the breathing zone. The mean benzene exposure level (8 h TWA) of the 27 subjects under study was 1.73 mg/m3 (SD = 5.53). The benzene concentration in the samples of gasoline, which were collected on the same day as personal exposure monitoring was performed, was measured by means of high resolution gas chromatography (hr-GC). Mean benzene levels of 25.03 g/l (SD = 3.47), equivalent to 2.86% by volume, were measured in 24 samples of alkylated gasoline, and mean levels of 23.18 g/l (SD = 3.93), equivalent to 2.65% v/v, were measured in 10 samples of lead-free gasoline. Statistically significant associations were found between individual exposure to benzene and the quantity of gasoline pumped (r = 0.69) and the quantity of benzene present in the gasoline sold on the day monitoring was performed (r = 0.70). Using regression analysis, the estimated increase in the level of personal benzene exposure was 0.01 mg/m3 for every increase of 100 g in the benzene content of the total amount of gasoline sold. This estimation could be used to quantify the expected reduction in benzene exposure levels in service station attendants following a reduction in the benzene content of gasoline.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / analysis*
  • Automobiles*
  • Benzene / analysis*
  • Gasoline* / analysis
  • Humans
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Occupations*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Seasons


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Gasoline
  • Benzene