Low Personal Exposure to Benzene and 1,3-Butadiene in the Swedish Petroleum Refinery Industry

Petroleum refinery workers are exposed to the carcinogens benzene and 1,3-butadiene. Declining exposures have been reported internationally, but information on current exposure in the Swedish refinery industry is limited. The aim was to examine refinery workers’ personal exposure to benzene and 1,3-butadiene and increase awareness of exposure conditions by collaboration with involved refineries.

Altogether, 505 repeated personal exposure measurements were performed among workers at two refineries. Full-shift measurements were conducted in different exposure groups using Perkin Elmer diffusive samplers filled with Carbopack X. Mean levels were calculated using mixed-effects models. A large fraction of measurements below the limit of detection required imputation of computer-generated data.

Low benzene and 1,3-butadiene levels were found among refinery workers. Mean benzene exposure was about 1% of the Swedish occupational limit and for 1,3-butadiene, exposure was even lower.

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