ORIGINAL ARTICLE

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health

, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 139-143

Blood benzene concentrations in workers exposed to oxygenated fuel in Fairbanks, Alaska

  • R. L. MoolenaarAffiliated withCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mailstop C-08, 1600 Clifton Rd. N.E., Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
  • , Brockton J. HefflinAffiliated withCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Environmental Health, 1600 Clifton Rd. N.E., Mailstop F-39, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
  • , David L. AshleyAffiliated withCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Environmental Health, 1600 Clifton Rd. N.E., Mailstop F-39, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
  • , John P. MiddaughAffiliated withAlaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Anchorage, AK 99524-0249, USA
  • , Ruth A. EtzelAffiliated withCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Environmental Health, 1600 Clifton Rd. N.E., Mailstop F-39, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA

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Abstract

Objective: In November 1992 residents of Fairbanks, Alaska became concerned about the potential health effects of an oxygenated fuel program during which 15% (by volume) methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) was added to gasoline. To address those concerns, we earlier completed a survey of occupational exposure to MTBE. We conducted a follow-up survey of workers’ exposure to benzene from gasoline in Fairbanks. Design: Cross-sectional exposure survey. Methods: We examined blood concentrations of benzene from a convenience sample of workers taken in December 1992 during the oxygenated fuel program and from another convenience sample of workers taken in February 1993 after the program was suspended. Results: In December, the median blood benzene concentration of samples taken from four mechanics after their workshift (postshift) was 1.32  μg/l (range, 0.84–2.61 μg/l), and seven nonmechanics (drivers and other garage workers) had a median postshift blood benzene concentration of 0.27 μg/l (range, 0.09– 0.45 μg/l). In February, nine mechanics had a median postshift blood benzene concentration of 1.99 μg/l (range, 0.92–3.23 μg/l), and nine nonmechanics had a median postshift blood benzene concentration of 0.26 μg/l (range, 0.2–0.46 μg/l). Conclusion: Mechanics had higher blood benzene concentrations than did nonmechanics, but further study is needed to determine the impact of the oxygenated fuel program on exposure to benzene.

Keywords Benzene Gasoline Occupational Environmental Blood