Risk Assessment of Volatile Organic Compounds Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene (BTEX) in Consumer Products Academic Article uri icon


  • Exposure and risk assessment was performed by evaluating levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) in 207 consumer products. The products were categorized into 30 different items, consisting of products of different brands. Samples were analyzed for BTEX by headspace-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (headspace-GC/MS) with limit of detection (LOD) of 1 ppm. BTEX were detected in 59 consumer products from 18 item types. Benzene was detected in whiteout (ranging from not detected [ND] to 3170 ppm), glue (1486 ppm), oil-based ballpoint pens (47 ppm), and permanent (marking) pens (2 ppm). Toluene was detected in a leather cleaning product (6071 ppm), glue (5078 ppm), whiteout (1130 ppm), self-adhesive wallpaper (15-1012 ppm), shoe polish (806 ppm), permanent pen (609 ppm), wig adhesive (372 ppm), tapes (2-360 ppm), oil-based ballpoint pen (201 ppm), duplex wallpaper (12-52 ppm), shoes (27 ppm), and air freshener (13 ppm). High levels of ethylbenzene were detected in permanent pen (ND-345,065 ppm), shoe polish (ND-277,928 ppm), leather cleaner (42,223 ppm), whiteout (ND-2,770 ppm), and glue (ND-792 ppm). Xylene was detected in permanent pen (ND-285,132 ppm), shoe polish (ND-87,298 ppm), leather cleaner (12,266 ppm), glue (ND-3,124 ppm), and whiteout (ND-1,400 ppm). Exposure assessment showed that the exposure to ethylbenzene from permanent pens ranged from 0 to 3.11 mg/kg/d (men) and 0 to 3.75 mg/kg/d (women), while for xylene, the exposure ranges were 0-2.57 mg/kg/d and 0-3.1 mg/kg/d in men and women, respectively. The exposure of women to benzene from whiteout ranged from 0 to 0.00059 mg/kg/d. Hazard index (HI), defined as a ratio of exposure to reference dose (RfD), for ethylbenzene was 31.1 (3.11 mg/kg/d/0.1 mg/kg/d) and for xylene (2.57 mg/kg/d/0.2 mg/kg/d) was 12.85, exceeding 1 for both compounds. Cancer risk for benzene was calculated to be 3.2 × 10(-5) based on (0.00059 mg/kg/d × 0.055 mg/kg-d(-1), cancer potency factor), assuming that 100% of detected levels in some products such as permanent pens and whiteouts were exposed in a worst-case scenario. These data suggest that exposure to VOC via some consumer products exceeded the safe limits and needs to be reduced.

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Lim, S. K., Shin, H. S., Yoon, K. S., Kwack, S. J., Um, Y. M., Hyeon, J. H., ... Lee, B.

citation count

  • 45

publication date

  • December 2014