J Environ Monit 2012 May 3;14(6):1542-50. Epub 2012 May 3.
University of Rome Sapienza, Department of Anatomy, Histology, Medical-Legal and the Orthopedics, Unit of Occupational Medicine, Viale Regina Elena 336, 00161 Rome, Italy.
To evaluate exposure to benzene in urban and rural areas, an investigation into personal exposure to benzene in traffic policemen, police drivers and rural (roadmen) male outdoor workers was carried out. Personal samples and data acquired using fixed monitoring stations located in different areas of the city were used to measure personal exposure to benzene in 62 non-smoker traffic policemen, 22 police drivers and 57 roadmen. Blood benzene, urinary trans-trans muconic acid (t,t-MA) and S-phenyl-mercapturic acid (S-PMA) were measured at the end of work shift in 62 non-smoker traffic policemen, 22 police drivers and 57 roadmen and 34 smoker traffic policemen, 21 police drivers and 53 roadmen. Exposure to benzene was similar among non-smoker traffic policemen and police drivers and higher among non-smoker urban workers compared to rural workers. Blood benzene, t,t-MA and S-PMA were similar among non-smoker traffic policemen and police drivers; blood benzene and t,t-MA were significantly higher in non-smoker urban workers compared to rural workers. Significant increases in t,t-MA were found in smokers vs. non-smokers. In non-smoker urban workers airborne benzene and blood benzene, and t,t-MA and S-PMA were significantly correlated. This study gives an evaluation of the exposure to benzene in an urban area, comparing people working in the street or in cars, to people working in a rural area. Benzene is a certain carcinogen for humans. The results we showed should lead to more in-depth studies about the effects on health of these categories of workers.