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Passive and active sampling of benzene in different urban environments in Gothenburg, Sweden

Journal article
Authors Sofia Thorsson
Ingegärd Eliasson
Volume 173
Issue 1-4
Pages 39-56
ISSN 0049-6979
Publication year 2006
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 39-56
Language en
Links DOI: 10.1007/s11270-005-9025-6
Keywords benzene - passive and active sampling - urban concentrations - personal exposure
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


Urban benzene concentration and personal exposure to benzene were measured within different urban environments in Gothenburg, Sweden. Three intensive monitoring campaigns were carried out in May 2000, February 2001 and May 2001. Three different environments were selected; two central built-up areas with different traffic densities (high and low) and one large urban park. The methods used included passive and active sampling. Passive sampling was used to retrieve spatial variability in urban benzene concentrations, while active sampling aimed to give data on personal exposure levels within the designated areas. The passive sampling showed large spatial and temporal variations in urban benzene concentrations. The benzene concentrations, ranging from 1.0 to 3.1 μg m−3, were typically two to four times higher within the high-traffic built-up area compared to the adjacent urban park. This was mainly due to the proximity to motorised traffic. A comparison between personal exposure and active stationary measurements showed that the personal exposure levels were roughly 1.5 times higher in the heavy traffic area and 1.3 times higher in the light traffic area than the fixed benzene concentrations. The personal exposure levels in the park were equal to the active stationary benzene concentration. Given the large spatial heterogeneity within urban areas, the placement of single street level point measurements becomes crucial. Care must be taken to ensure that the measurements are actually representative when using these measurements to estimate urban concentrations and exposure levels.

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