Personal exposures to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were measured in the three industrial cities in the Czech Republic, Ostrava, Karvina and Havirov, while the city of Prague served as a control in a large-scale molecular epidemiological study identifying the impacts of air pollution on human health. Office workers from Ostrava and city policemen from Karvina, Havirov and Prague were monitored in the winter and summer of 2009. Only adult non-smokers participated in the study (N=160). Radiello-diffusive passive samplers were used to measure the exposure to benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, meta- plus para-xylene and ortho-xylene (BTEX). All participants completed a personal questionnaire and a time-location-activity diary (TLAD). The average personal BTEX exposure levels in both seasons were 7.2/34.3/4.4/16.1 μg/m(3), respectively. The benzene levels were highest in winter in Karvina, Ostrava and Prague: 8.5, 7.2 and 5.3 μg/m(3), respectively. The personal exposures to BTEX were higher than the corresponding stationary monitoring levels detected in the individual localities (P<0.001; except m,p-xylene in summer). The indoor environment, ETS (environmental tobacco smoke), cooking, a home-heating fireplace or gas stove, automobile use and being in a restaurant were important predictors for benzene personal exposure. Ostrava's outdoor benzene pollution was a significant factor increasing the exposure of the Ostrava study participants in winter (P<0.05).
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