Benzene Exposure Analysis

Benzene is a compound commonly found in crude oil, natural gas and fuel. It is found as an additive in some industrial solvents, and is also found in vehicle exhaust fumes. People who work in industries related to oil and gas, fuel production, and infrastructure projects, particularly projects involving tunnelling are at risk of being exposed to benzene.

What are the risks?

Short-term exposure to benzene can cause headaches, tiredness, dizziness and nausea. Longer term exposure has been linked to bone marrow suppression leading to serious blood disorders, including leukaemia. Employers are legally obliged to reduce exposure to benzene as far as is reasonably practicable, this may include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise exposure, as well as routine monitoring of staff to determine their benzene exposure.

RPS can support clients by providing a biological monitoring service for benzene exposure by using our UKAS accredited analysis, we are able to test for s-phenyl-mercapturic acid (S-PMA) a marker of benzene. Our method provides results well below the current workplace exposure limit (WEL), with results being available within five working days of submission as standard.

The Derived Limit Values as listed in the latest ECHA guidance are as follows:

  • Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL):  as 8-hour TWA: 0.05 ppm (0.16 mg/m3)
  • Biological Limit Value (BLV): 0.7 µg benzene/L urine or 2 µg S-phenylmercapturic acid (SPMA)/g creatinine (sampling: end of exposure or end of working shift)
  • Biological Guidance Value (BGV): 0.3 µg benzene/L urine 0.5 µg S-phenylmercapturic acid (SPMA)/g creatinine

Link to ECHA Guidance document.

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Media

  • For biological monitoring (urine) - Provision of 30ml sample container with stabiliser and prepaid postal return envelope with Category B compliant packaging
  • For air monitoring – Provision of Carbopack, Carbograph or Tenax stainless steel TD tubes ready for sampling
  • Soil and water – provision of sampling containers for headspace analysis

Holding Times

  • Urine - 28 days at room temperature
  • Thermal Desorption Tubes –30 days from exposure
  • Soil and water – 7 days refrigerated with no-headspace

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