Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Amy L. Stuart


air pollution, environmental exposure, health risk estimation, Radiello RAD130 passive sampler, urban air toxics


Benzene is an important toxic chemical in urban air and known human carcinogen released substantially by mobile sources. It's important to understand the spatial variation of benzene concentrations in order to understand exposures of susceptible sub-populations such as children and minority groups. Current monitoring networks use large and expensive air samplers that require electricity and restrict the location and number of samplers, not allowing for fine spatial resolution data.

The goals of this study are to develop and evaluate protocols for passive sampling and analysis of ambient benzene concentrations, and conduct a pilot study investigating small-scale variations over an area where children are likely to be exposed. Protocols were developed for the use and analysis of the Radiello RAD130 passive sampler for field sampling over the spatial scale of a city park adjacent to an elementary school. A pilot study was conducted from 4/27/11-5/4/11, where 11 samplers were exposed for a seven day sampling period at the park. After sampler exposure, benzene concentrations were determined through solvent desorption followed by analysis using a Varian gas chromatograph with mass spectrometer. Co-location with the existing regulatory active sampler in the county and of two samplers at the same site was done to evaluate the accuracy and precision of the methods, respectively. Health risk estimates were calculated using risk assessment guidance from the U.S. and California Environmental Protection Agencies.

Concentrations over the park were found to range from 0.23 0.34 µg m^-3 with a coefficient of variation of 11%. A relative percent difference of 3% was found between the co-located sampler and the active sampler, and a 14% relative percent difference was found between the two duplicate samplers. The variation in health risk from concentration variation due to sampler placement contributed less to the overall uncertainty in the estimates than the uncertainty built in to the calculation parameters of inhalation unit risk and cancer potency factor, as estimated by the U.S. EPA and California EPA, respectively.

These results suggest that the exposure of an individual at the park would be characterized sufficiently for standard health risk analysis through the use of one sampler. Further research is necessary into using passive samplers over both the same spatial scale in other areas, as well as on a larger scale to determine intra-urban benzene concentration distributions. The protocols developed here will be used in a future planned study of benzene concentration measurements to characterize neighborhood-scale exposures in Hillsborough County.