Benzene and Total Hydrocarbon Exposures in the Upstream Petroleum Oil and Gas Industry
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Occupational exposures to benzene and total hydrocarbons (THC) in the Canadian upstream petroleum industry are described in this article. A total of 1547 air samples taken by 5 oil companies in various sectors (i.e., conventional oil/gas, conventional gas, heavy oil processing, drilling and pipelines) were evaluated and summarized. The data includes personal long- and short-term samples and area long-term samples. The percentage of samples over the occupational exposure limit (OEL) of 3.2 mg/m3 or one part per million for benzene, for personal long-term samples ranges from 0 to 0.7% in the different sectors, and area long-term samples range from 0 to 13%. For short-term personal samples, the exceedance for benzene is at 5% with respect to the OEL of 16 mg/m3 or five parts per million in the conventional gas sector and none in the remaining sectors. THC levels were not available for all sectors and had limited data points in others. The percentage exceedance of the OEL of 280 mg/m3 or 100 parts per million for THC as gasoline ranged from 0 to 2.6% for personal long-term samples. It is recommended that certain operations such as glycol dehydrators be carefully monitored and that a task-based monitoring program be included along with the traditional long- and short-term personal exposure sampling.
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