Volatile Organic Compounds in Selected Micro-Environments

Document Type

Journal Article




Health and Science


Natural Sciences, Centre for Ecosystem Management




This article was originally published as: Hinwood, A. , Berko, H., Farrar, D., Galbally, I., & Weeks, I. (2006). Volatile Organic Compounds in Selected Micro-Environments. Chemosphere, 63(3), 421-429. Original article available here


A program of sampling for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in ambient air was undertaken in selected locations and micro-environments in Perth, Western Australia to characterise concentrations of target VOCs and to determine the relative strength of the contributing sources to ambient air in different micro-environments in a major Australian city. Twenty-seven locations were sampled and, of the forty-one target compounds, 26 VOCs were detected in the samples collected. The highest concentrations were recorded for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes (BTEX), chloroform and styrene. The maximum 12-h toluene and benzene concentrations observed were from a basement carpark and were 24.7 parts per billion (ppb) and 5.6 ppb, respectively. The maximum xylenes concentration was 29.4 ppb and occurred in a nightclub where styrene was also detected. A factor analysis of the data was undertaken. Two key factors emerge that appear to be associated with petroleum and motor vehicles and environmental tobacco smoke. A third significant occurrence was a high concentration of chloroform that was observed at a sports centre complex with a swimming pool text and was uncorrelated with other compounds in the data set. This study indicates that locations associated with motor vehicles and petrol fuel, tobacco and wood smoke and chlorinated water represent the major risks for personal exposure to VOCs in Perth.




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