Main content area

Indoor and outdoor concentrations of BTEX and formaldehyde in Tehran, Iran: effects of building characteristics and health risk assessment

Hadei, Mostafa, Hopke, Philip K., Rafiee, Mohammad, Rastkari, Noushin, Yarahmadi, Maryam, Kermani, Majid, Shahsavani, Abbas
Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.27 pp. 27423-27437
BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene), adverse effects, air, air pollutants, air pollution, benzene, buildings, coatings, ethylbenzene, floors, formaldehyde, health effects assessments, heating systems, highways, human health, humans, oils, regression analysis, risk, toluene, toxic substances, toxicity, ventilation systems, winter, xylene, Iran
BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene) and formaldehyde are toxic compounds that can induce adverse health effect in humans. This study measured in-home and ambient concentrations of BTEX and formaldehyde across Tehran, Iran. These pollutants were sampled from the indoor and adjacent outdoor air of 45 houses (9 in each city zone) during the winter of 2015. Sampling was repeated three times for each house. The analyses were performed according to NIOSH procedures. The effect of flooring material, wall covering, ventilation system, heating system, height above ground, presence of attached garages, and distance from highways was evaluated. In addition, carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks of these compounds were assessed. The average indoor concentrations of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and formaldehyde were 53.2, 21.5, 14.4, 21.1, and 17.9 μg/m³, respectively. The average outdoor concentrations of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and formaldehyde were 43.5, 26.2, 10.0, 19.1, and 6.9 μg/m³, respectively. Separate regression models showed that wall coating, ventilation system, heating system, flat level, and distance from highways explained 29, 60, 16, 60, and 59% of the BTEX concentrations, respectively. Houses with oil painted walls and parquet flooring had higher concentrations of BTEX and formaldehyde, respectively. The health risk assessment found that the carcinogenic risks of benzene and formaldehyde exceeded 1 × 10⁻⁴ and represent a definite risk. New buildings can be designed based on the results of this study to use better materials and optimum building designs to reduce exposure to these toxic air pollutants.