Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls and legacy and current pesticides in indoor environment in Australia – occurrence, sources and exposure risks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Xianyu Wang
  • Andrew P.w. Banks
  • Chang He
  • Christie L. Gallen
  • Yan Li
  • Qingbo Li
  • Phong K. Thai
  • Jochen F. Mueller

Colleges, School and Institutes


Paired indoor air and floor dust samples were collected from residential houses and offices (n = 28) in two Australian cities in 2015. For the air samples, a modified passive air sampler (PAS) was used to collect semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) in gaseous phase and airborne particles simultaneously. Sampling rates (R) of the PAS for gaseous SVOCs ranged from 0.69 to 3.4 m3 sampler-1 day-1. Out of the 33 analytes, 22, 14 and 17 compounds were detected (above the method detection limit) in over 50% of air, airborne particles and floor dust samples respectively. The highest median level in air, airborne particles and floor dust was observed for phenanthrene (2.0 ng m-3), permethrin (8800 ng g-1) and permethrin (5100 ng g-1) respectively. Among polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners, with few exceptions, the largest contribution was from 3,3'-dichlorobiphenyl (PCB11) for both indoor air and floor dust samples. In these houses and offices, the indoor level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was mainly influenced by ambient (outdoor) air. Primary sources of PCBs were from within indoor environments and generally older houses have higher concentrations in air. Among pesticides, hexachlorobenzene in indoor environments appeared to be due to transfer from outdoor sources whereas chlordanes and pyrethroids were associated with past and current household application respectively. Compared to data from other countries/regions, concentrations of chlordanes, chlorpyrifos and pyrethroids in indoor air and dust samples from Australia were among the highest whereas PCB and PAH levels were among the lowest. The sum of estimated daily intakes (EDIs) via inhalation and dust contact and ingestion were calculated. The highest median value of EDI was observed for permethrin at 2.8 (for adults) and 74 ng kg-1 day-1 (for toddlers), which are <0.15% of the U.S. EPA reference dose.


Original languageEnglish
Article number133588
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date25 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2019


  • Daily intakes, Global comparison, Indoor, Passive air sampling, Semi-volatile organic compounds, Sources