Determinants of personal exposure to some carcinogenic substances and nitrogen dioxide among the general population in five Swedish cities

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Environmental levels of airborne carcinogenic and related substances are comparatively better known than individual exposure and its determinants. We report on a personal monitoring program involving five Swedish urban populations. The aim of the program was to investigate personal exposure to benzene, 1,3-butadiene, formaldehyde, and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The measurements were performed among 40 inhabitants during seven consecutive days, in one urban area each year, during 2000-2008. The estimated population exposure levels were 1.95 μg/m3 for benzene, 0.56 μg/m3 for 1,3-butadiene, 19.4 μg/m3 for formaldehyde, and 14.1 μg/m3 for NO2. Statistical analysis using a mixed-effects model revealed that time spent in traffic and time outdoors contributed to benzene and 1,3- butadiene exposure. For benzene, refueling a car was an additional determinant influencing the exposure level. Smoking or environmental tobacco smoke were significant determinants of exposure to NO2, benzene, and 1, 3-butadiene. Those with a gas stove had higher NO2 exposure. Living in a single-family house increased the exposure to formaldehyde significantly. In a variance component model, the between-subject variance dominated for 1,3-butadiene and formaldehyde, whereas the between-city variance dominated for NO2. For benzene, the between-subject and between-cities variances were similar.

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