Personal carbon monoxide exposure levels: contribution of local sources to exposures and microenvironment concentrations in Milan

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Abstract

In the framework of the EXPOLIS study in Milan, Italy, 48-h carbon monoxide (CO) exposures of 50 office workers were monitored over a 1-year period. In this work, the exposures were assessed for different averaging times and were compared with simultaneous ambient fixed-site concentrations. The effect of gas cooking and smoking and different methods of commuting on the microenvironment and exposure levels of CO were investigated. During the sampling the subjects completed a time-microenvironment-activity diary differentiating 11 microenvironments and three exposure influencing activities: gas cooking, smoking and commuting. After sampling, all exposure and time allocation data were stored in a relational database that is used in data analyses. Ambient 48-h and maximum 8-h distributions were similar compared to the respective personal exposures. The maximum 1-h personal exposures were much higher than the maximum 8-h exposures. The maximum 1-h exposures were as well higher than the corresponding ambient distribution. These findings indicate that high short-term exposures were not reflected in ambient monitoring data nor by long-term exposures. When gas cooking or smoking was present, the indoor levels at "home-" and in "other indoor" microenvironments were higher than without their presence. Compared with ambient data, the latter source was the most affective to increase the indoor levels. Exposure during commuting was higher than in all other microenvironments; the highest daily exposure contribution was found during "car/taxi" driving. Most of the CO exposure is acquired in indoor microenvironments. For the indoor microenvironments, ambient CO was the weakest predictor for "home indoor" concentrations, where the subjects spent most of their time, and the strongest for "other indoor" concentrations, where the smallest fraction of the time was spent. Of the main indoor sources, gas cooking, on average, significantly raised the indoor exposure concentrations for 45 min and tobacco smoking for 30 min. The highest exposure levels were experienced in street commuting. Personal exposures were well predicted, but 1-h maximum personal exposures were poorly predicted, by respective ambient air quality data. By the use of time-activity diaries, ETS exposure at the workplaces were probably misclassified due to differences in awareness to tobacco smoke between smokers and nonsmokers.

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