Review and update of naphthalene exposures - Is this the highest risk VOC?


Naphthalene has a ubiquitous presence at low levels, but very high concentrations can be encountered in settings including households where this pest repellent is used. This study extends our recent critical review of naphthalene by providing new information on concentrations in southeast Michigan residences. We sampled and analyzed air in 284 suburban and urban homes using passive samplers over 3 to 7 day periods. Each home was measured in multiple seasons. The median concentration was 0.91 μg m-3. A number of homes had concentrations exceeding 100 μg m-3, and levels reached 200 μg m-3. Using EPA's draft estimates of cancer risk, naphthalene is a major environmental risk driver with typical individual lifetime cancer risk levels in the 10-4 range. This is high and notable since millions of individuals are exposed. While naphthalene's use has been reduced in favor of paradichlorobenzene, off-label uses continue, which likely account for the high concentrations.

Publication Title

12th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Climate 2011

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