Outdoor, indoor, and personal exposure to VOCs in children

John L. Adgate, Timothy R Church, Andrew Ryan, Gurumurthy Ramachandran, Ann L. Fredrickson, Thomas H. Stock, Maria T. Morandi, Ken Sexton

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190 Scopus citations


We measured volatile organic compound (VOC) exposures in multiple locations for a diverse population of children who attended two inner-city schools in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fifteen common VOCs were measured at four locations: outdoors (O), indoors at school (S), indoors at home (H), and in personal samples (P). Concentrations of most VOCs followed the general pattern O ≈ S < P ≤ H across the measured microenvironments. The S and O environments had the smallest and H the largest influence on personal exposure to most compounds. A time-weighted model of P exposure using all measured microenvironments and time-activity data provided little additional explanatory power beyond that provided by using the H measurement alone. Although H and P concentrations of most VOCs measured in this study were similar to or lower than levels measured in recent personal monitoring studies of adults and children in the United States, p-dichlorobenzene was the notable exception to this pattern, with upper-bound exposures more than 100 times greater than those found in other studies of children. Median and upper-bound H and P exposures were well above health benchmarks for several compounds, so outdoor measurements likely underestimate long-term health risks from children's exposure to these compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1386-1392
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number14
StatePublished - Oct 2004


  • Air pollution
  • Elementary school children
  • Ethnicity
  • Health risk
  • Race
  • SHIELD study


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