Benzene and Total Hydrocarbons Exposures in the Downstream Petroleum Industries Academic Article uri icon

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  • A review of studies, including both articles published in peer-reviewed journals and reports that were not peer reviewed, regarding occupational exposure to benzene and total hydrocarbons in the downstream petroleum industry operations was performed. The objective was to provide a broad estimate of exposures by compiling exposure data according to the following categories: refinery, pipeline, marine, rail, bulk terminals and trucks, service stations, underground storage tanks, tank cleaning, and site remediations. The data in each category was divided into personal occupational long-term and short-term samples. The summarized data offers valuable assistance to hygienists by providing them with an estimate and range of exposures. The traditional 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) exposure and the 40-hour workweek do not generally coincide with exposure periods applicable to workers in marine, pipeline, railcar, and trucking operations. They are more comparable with short-term exposure or task-based exposure assessments. The marine sector has a large number of high exposures. Although relatively few workers are exposed, their exposures to benzene and total hydrocarbons are sometimes an order of magnitude higher than the respective exposure limits. It is recommended that in the future, it would be preferable to do more task-based exposure assessments and fewer traditional TWA long-term exposure assessments within the various sectors of the downstream petroleum industry.


  • Verma, Dave
  • Johnson, Diane M
  • Shaw, M Lorraine
  • des Tombe, Karen

publication date

  • March 2001