BTEX Fact Sheet

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Bureau of Environmental Health Health Assessment Section “To protect and improve the health of all Ohioans” BTEX Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylenes Where do you find BTEX? Most people are exposed to small amounts of BTEX compounds in the ambient (outdoor) air, at work and in the home. Most everyone is exposed to low levels of these chemicals in their everyday activities. People who live in urban areas (cities) or by major roads and highways will likely be exposed to more BTEX than some
    BBuurreeaauuooff EEnnvviirroonnmmeennttaallHHeeaalltthh  HHeeaalltthhAAsssseessssmmeennttSSeeccttiioonn   “To protect and improve the health of all Ohioans” BBTTEEXX  BBeennzzeennee,,TToolluueennee,,EEtthhyyllbbeennzzeennee,,aannddXXyylleenneess WWhhaattiissBBTTEEXX??   BTEX is not one chemical, but are a group of the followingchemical compounds: B enzene, T oluene, E thylbenzene and X ylenes.BTEX are made up of naturally-occurring chemicals that arefound mainly in petroleum products such as gasoline.Refineries will change the amounts of these chemicalcompounds to meet vapor pressure and octane standardsfor gasoline. Besides gasoline, BTEX can be found in manyof the common household products we use every day. BTEX Breakdown Benzene 11%Toluene 26%Ethylbenzene11%Xylene 52%   WWhhaattaarreessoommeepprroodduuccttsstthhaattccoonnttaaiinn BBTTEEXX??  Benzene can be found in gasoline and in products such assynthetic rubber, plastics, nylon, insecticides, paints, dyes,resins-glues, furniture wax, detergents and cosmetics.Auto exhaust and industrial emissions account for about 20%of the total nationwide exposure to benzene. Benzene canalso be found in cigarette smoke. About 50% of the entirenationwide exposure to benzene results from smokingtobacco or from 2 nd hand exposure to tobacco smoke. Toluene occurs naturally as a component of many petroleumproducts. Toluene is used as a solvent for paints, coatings,gums, oils and resins. Ethylbenzene is used mostly as a gasoline and aviation fueladditive. It may also be present in consumer products suchas paints, inks, plastics and pesticides.There are three forms of Xylene: ortho-, meta-, and para-.Ortho-xylene is the only naturally-occurring form of xylene;the other two forms are man-made. Xylenes are used ingasoline and as a solvent in printing, rubber and leatherindustries.BTEX are in a class of chemicals known as volatile organiccompounds (VOCs). VOC chemicals easily vaporize orchange from a liquid to a vapor (gas). The VOC vapors cantravel through the air and/or move through contaminatedgroundwater and soils as vapors, possibly impacting indoorair quality in nearby homes or businesses. WWhheerreeddooyyoouuffiinnddBBTTEEXX??   Most people are exposed to small amounts of BTEXcompounds in the ambient (outdoor) air, at work andin the home. Most everyone is exposed to low levelsof these chemicals in their everyday activities.   Peoplewho live in urban areas (cities) or by major roads andhighways will likely be exposed to more BTEX thansomeone who lives in a rural (country) setting.Besides common everydayexposures, larger amounts of BTEXcan enter the environment fromleaks from underground storagetanks, overfills of storage tanks,fuel spills and landfills. BTEXcompounds easily move throughsoils and can make their way intothe groundwater, contaminating public and privatewater systems and the soils in between. CCaanneexxppoossuurreettooBBTTEEXXmmaakkeeyyoouu ssiicckk??   Yes, you can get sick from exposure to BTEX. Butgetting sick will depend on:    How much you were exposed to (dose).      How long you were exposed (duration).      How often you were exposed (frequency).    General Health, Age, LifestyleYoung children, the elderly and people withchronic (on-going) health problems are moreat risk to chemical exposures. HHoowwaarreeyyoouueexxppoosseeddttooBBTTEEXX??  Exposure can occur by either drinking contaminatedwater (ingestion), by breathing contaminated air frompumping gas or from the water via showering orlaundering (inhalation) or from spills on your skin(dermal). HHoowwddooeessBBTTEEXXaaffffeecctthheeaalltthh??  Acute (short-term) exposure to gasoline and itscomponents benzene, toluene and xylenes has beenassociated with skin and sensory irritation, centralnervous system-CNS problems (tiredness, dizziness,headache, loss of coordination) and effects on therespiratory system (eye and nose irritation).On top of skin, sensory and CNS problems, prolongedexposure to these compounds can also affect thekidney, liver and blood systems.   BTEXtypicallymake upabout18% ofgasoline .    DDooBBTTEEXXccoommppoouunnddssccaauusseeccaanncceerr??   In the absence of data on the cancer-causing nature ofthe whole mixture (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene andxylenes), possible health hazards from exposures toBTEX are assessed using an individual component-basedapproach of the individual chemicals. Benzene: T he Department of Health and Human Services(HHS) has determined that benzene is a known humancarcinogen (causes cancer). Workers exposed to highlevels of benzene in occupational settings were found tohave an increase occurrence of leukemia. Long-termexposure to high levels of benzene in the air can lead toleukemia and cancers of the blood-forming organs. Ethylbenzene: According to the International Agency forResearch on Cancer (IARC), ethylbenzene classified asa Group 2B, possibly carcinogenic to humans, based onstudies of laboratory animals. Toluene, and Xylenes have been categorized as notclassifiable as to human carcinogenicity by both EPA (IRIS2001) and IARC (1999a, 1999b), reflecting the lack ofevidence for the carcinogenicity of these two chemicals.   IIsstthheerreeaammeeddiiccaalltteessttttoosshhoowwwwhheetthheerr yyoouuhhaavveebbeeeenneexxppoosseeddttooBBTTEEXX??   Several tests can show if you have been exposed to BTEX.Components of BTEX can be found in the blood, urine,breath and some body tissues of exposed people.However, these tests need to be done within a few hoursafter exposure because these substances leave the bodyvery quickly. The most common way to test forethylbenzene is in the urine. However, the urine testmay not be as effective to measures benzene levels.Note these tests will perhaps show the amount of BTEXin your body, but they cannot tell you whether you willhave any harmful health problems. They also do not tellyou where the benzene came from. HHoowwccaannffaammiilliieessrreedduucceetthheerriisskkooff eexxppoossuurreettooBBTTEEXX??     Use adequate ventilation to reduce exposure toBTEX vapors from consumer products such asgasoline, pesticides, varnishes, paints, resins-gluesand newly installed carpeting.    Household chemicals should be stored out of reachof children to prevent accidental poisoning. Alwaysstore household chemicals in their srcinalcontainers; never store them in containers thatchildren would find attractive to eat or drink from,such as old soda bottles. Gasoline should bestored in a gasoline can with a locked cap.    Volatile chemicals should be stored outside thehome if possible – in a separate garage or shed.      Don’t smoke indoors with doors and windowsclosed.   FFoorrmmoorreeiinnffoorrmmaattiioonnccoonnttaacctt::   Ohio Department of HealthBureau of Environmental HealthHealth Assessment Section246 N. High StreetColumbus, Ohio 43215Phone: (614) 466-1390Fax: (614) 466-4556 RReeffeerreenncceess::   Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR). 1997. Toxicological profile for benzene. U.S.Department of Health and Human Services, Public HealthService.Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR). 2007. Toxicological profile for ethylbenzene.U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PublicHealth Service.Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). 2007.BTEX.Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR). 2004. Interaction Profile for Benzene, Toluene,Ethylbenzene and Xylene (BTEX). U.S. Department ofHealth and Human Services, Public Health Service.   Revised 08/07/09   The Ohio Department of Health is incooperative agreement with the Agency forToxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR), Public Health Service, U.S.Department of Health and Human Services.This pamphlet was created by the OhioDepartment of Health, Bureau of EnvironmentalHealth, Health Assessment Section andsupported in whole by funds from theCooperative Agreement Program grantfrom the ATSDR.
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