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Personal exposure to benzene and 1,3-butadiene during petroleum refinery turnarounds and work in the oil harbour

Journal article
Authors Magnus Åkerström
Pernilla Almerud
Eva M. Andersson
Bo Strandberg
Gerd Sällsten
Published in International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Volume 89
Issue 8
Pages 1289-1297
ISSN 0340-0131
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Section of Occupational and environmental medicine
Pages 1289-1297
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00420-016-1163-...
Keywords Benzene, 1,3-Butadiene, Exposure, Refinery turnaround, Oil harbour, occupational-exposure, exxonmobil refinery, baton-rouge, louisiana, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Subject categories Health Sciences

Abstract

Petroleum refinery workers' exposure to the carcinogens benzene and 1,3-butadiene has decreased during normal operations. However, certain occupational groups or events at the refineries still involve a risk of higher exposures. The aim of this study was to examine the personal exposure to benzene and 1,3-butadiene at refinery turnarounds and during work in the oil harbour. Personal exposure measurements of benzene and 1,3-butadiene were taken during work shifts, with a priori assumed higher benzene exposure, using PerkinElmer diffusive samplers filled with Carbopack X. Mean exposure levels were calculated, and repeated exposure measurements, when available, were assessed using mixed effect models. Group and individual compliance with the Swedish occupational exposure limit (OEL) was tested for the different exposure groups. Mean benzene exposure levels for refinery workers during the three measured turnarounds were 150, 610 and 960 A mu g/m(3), and mean exposures for oil harbour workers and sewage tanker drivers were 310 and 360 A mu g/m(3), respectively. Higher exposures were associated with handling benzene-rich products. Most occupational groups did not comply with the Swedish OEL for benzene nor did the individuals within the groups. The exposure to 1,3-butadiene was very low, between < 1 and 3 % of the Swedish OEL. Work within the petroleum refinery industry, with potential exposure to open product streams containing higher fractions of benzene, pose a risk of personal benzene exposures exceeding the OEL. Refinery workers performing these work tasks frequently, such as contractors, sewage tanker drivers and oil harbour workers, need to be identified and protected.

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