Exposure assessment for study of olfactory function in workers exposed to styrene in the reinforced-plastics industry

Peter S.J. Lees, Aleksandr Stefaniak, Edward A. Emmett, Pamela Dalton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: This study was undertaken in conjunction with an evaluation of the olfactory function of 52 persons exposed to styrene vapors to provide quantitative styrene exposure histories of each subject for use in the interpretation of the results of olfactory function testing. Methods: Current and historic exposures were investigated. Historic exposures were reconstructed from employment records and measurements of styrene exposure made in the subject facilities over the last 15 years. Current exposures were estimated for every exposed subject though personal air sampling and through pre- and post-shift measurements of urinary metabolites of styrene. Results: The study population had been employed in the reinforced-plastics industry for an average of 12.2 ± 7.4 years. Their mean 8-hr time weighted average (TWA) respirator-corrected annual average styrene exposure was 12.6 ± 10.4 ppm; mean cumulative exposure was 156 ± 80 ppm-years. The current respirator-corrected 8-hr TWA average exposure was 15.1 ± 12.0 ppm. The mean post-shift urinary mandelic and phenylglyoxylic acid (PGA) concentrations were 580 ± 1,300 and 170 ± 360 mg/g creatinine, respectively and were highly correlated with air concentrations of styrene. Conclusions: This quantitative exposure evaluation has provided a well-characterized population, with documented exposure histories stable over time and in the range suitable for the purposes of the associated study of olfactory function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-23
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Exposure assessment
  • Exposure reconstruction
  • Olfaction
  • Styrene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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