Exposure to toxic air contaminants in environmental tobacco smoke: an assessment for California based on personal monitoring data

J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 1998 Jul-Sep;8(3):287-311.


The contribution of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) to the exposure of adult nonsmoking Californians was determined for selected toxic air contaminants (TACs). The assessment was based on published measurements of ETS emission factors and personal exposures to volatile organic compounds. The human exposure studies were conducted in three California areas--Los Angeles, Pittsburgh/Antioch, and Woodland--between 1984 and 1990. We derived unexposed and passive population exposure distributions by randomly sampling the monitoring results for individuals classified according to exposure status (active smoker, passively exposed or unexposed to ETS during monitoring). The differences between the unexposed and passive distributions were used to estimate the ETS-only contribution for exposure to benzene, styrene, o-xylene, and m,p-xylene. Emission factors were then employed to infer the ETS-caused exposure to thirteen other compounds. The estimated arithmetic mean increments of 24-hour exposure attributable to ETS for the nonsmoking Californian population (age > or = 7) exposed to ETS are as follows (results in units of microgram m-3 exposure concentration; results using two different emission factors presented as a range): acetaldehyde 11-15; acetonitrile 7.0; acrylonitrile 0.49; benzene 1.02; 1,3-butadiene 0.75-2.3; 2-butanone 1.4; o-cresol 0.17; m,p-cresol 0.41; ethyl acrylate < 0.015; ethylbenzene 0.49-0.64; formaldehyde 6.5-8.2; n-nitrosodimethylamine 0.0028; phenol 1.4; styrene 0.36; toluene 3.1-3.2; o-xylene 0.77; m,p-xylene 0.99. The 90% confidence limits on these estimates due to the limited sample size in the studies are roughly x/ divided by 6. For four widely studied compounds, ETS is estimated to contribute the following percentages to the total inhalation exposure of all nonsmoking Californians: o-xylene 5%; m,p-xylene 3%; benzene 5%; and styrene 8%.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Benzene Derivatives / analysis
  • California
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / analysis*


  • Benzene Derivatives
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution