Journal of Environmental Monitoring, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 524 - 535
Journal of Environmental Monitoring
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are known to cause adverse health effects. We investigated the relationships between children's VOC exposure and socioeconomic and human activity factors with passive personal samplers, questionnaires, and time–activity diaries (TAD). Statistical analyses were conducted using SAS 9.1, and the results were organized using SigmaPlot 8.0 software. Chemicals such as benzene, toluene, 2-butanone, ethylbenzene, xylene, chloroform, n-hexane, heptane, and some kinds of decanes, which are known to adversely affect public health, were identified in measured samples. These were mainly emitted from outdoor sources (e.g., vehicular traffic) or indoor sources (e.g., household activities such as cooking and cleaning) or both. We concluded that region was the most important socioeconomic factor affecting children's VOC exposure, and the significant compounds were n-hexane (p = 0.006), 1,1,1-trichloroethane (p = 0.001), benzene (p = 0.003), toluene (p = 0.002), ethylbenzene (p = 0.020), m-, p-xylene (p = 0.014), dodecane (p = 0.003), and hexadecane (p = 0.001). Parental education, year of home construction and type of housing were also slightly correlated with personal VOC exposure. Only the concentration of o-xylene (p = 0.027) was significantly affected by the parental education, and the concentrations of benzene (p = 0.030) and 2-butanone (p = 0.049) by the type of housing. Also, tridecane (p = 0.049) and n-hexane (p = 0.033) were significantly associated with the year of home construction. When household activities such as cooking were performed indoors, children's VOC concentrations tended to be higher, especially for n-hexane, chloroform, heptane, toluene (p < 0.05), 1,1,1-trichloroethane, benzene, dodecane, and hexadecane (p < 0.01). However, smoking had a significant effect for only dodecane, and cleaning had no impact on any VOC concentrations. Considering both socioeconomic and personal behavioral factors simultaneously, socioeconomic factors such as region had a greater effect on children's VOC exposures than indoor activities. From this study, we can suggest that socioeconomic factors as well as environmental factors should be considered when formulating environmental policy to protect children's health.