Environmental exposure to benzene: an update

Environ Health Perspect. 1996 Dec;104 Suppl 6(Suppl 6):1129-36. doi: 10.1289/ehp.961041129.


During the 1990s, several large-scale studies of benzene concentrations in air, food, and blood have added to our knowledge of its environmental occurrence. In general, the new studies have confirmed the earlier findings of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Total Exposure Assessment Methodology (TEAM) studies and other large-scale studies in Germany and the Netherlands concerning the levels of exposure and major sources. For example, the new studies found that personal exposures exceeded indoor concentrations of benzene, which in turn exceeded outdoor concentrations. The new studies of food concentrations have confirmed earlier indications that food is not an important pathway for benzene exposure. The results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on blood levels in a nationwide sample of 883 persons are in good agreement with the concentrations in exhaled breath measured in about 800 persons a decade earlier in the TEAM studies. Major sources of exposure continue to be active and passive smoking, auto exhaust, and driving or riding in automobiles. New methods in breath and blood sampling and analysis offer opportunities to investigate short-term peak exposures and resulting body burden under almost any conceivable field conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / toxicity
  • Air Pollution, Indoor
  • Benzene / analysis
  • Benzene / toxicity*
  • Body Burden
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Food Contamination / analysis
  • Gasoline / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Vehicle Emissions


  • Air Pollutants
  • Gasoline
  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Benzene