Comparison of Personal, Indoor, and Outdoor Exposures to Hazardous Air Pollutants in Three Urban Communities

Ken Sexton, John L. Adgate, Gurumurthy Ramachandran, Gregory C. Pratt, Steven J. Mongin, Thomas H. Stock, Maria T. Morandi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Two-day average concentrations of 15 individual volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were measured concurrently in (a) ambient air in three urban neighborhoods, (b) air inside residences of participants, and (c) personal air near the breathing zone of 71 healthy, nonsmoking adults. The outdoor (O), indoor (I), and personal (P) samples were collected in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area over three seasons (spring, summer, and fall) in 1999 using charcoal-based passive air samplers (3M model 3500 organic vapor monitors). A hierarchical, mixed-effects statistical model was used to estimate the mutually adjusted effects of monitor location, community, and season while accounting for within-subject and within-time-index (monitoring period) correlation. Outdoor VOC concentrations were relatively low compared to many other urban areas, and only minor seasonal differences were observed. A consistent pattern of P > I > O was observed across both communities and seasons for 13 of 15 individual VOCs (exceptions were carbon tetrachloride and chloroform). Results indicate that ambient VOC measurements at central monitoring sites can seriously underestimate actual exposures for urban residents, even when the outdoor measurements are taken in their own neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-430
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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