Risk assessment of workers’ exposure to BTEX and hazardous area classification at gasoline stations

2021-04-15

Vaporization of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) compounds pollutes the air and causes health hazards at gasoline stations. This study revealed the risk of BTEX exposure according to the hazardous area classification at gasoline stations. The risk assessment of gasoline workers from a representative group of 47 stations, which followed the United States Environmental Protection Agency-IRIS method of assessing BTEX exposure, was expressed as the hazard index (HI). A result of matrix multipliers of the hazardous exposure index and fire possibility from flammable gas classified hazardous area-I and area-II at the fuel dispensers. BTEX concentrations were actively sampled in ambient air and a flammable gas detector was used to measure the flammability level. Results showed that the BTEX concentrations from ambient air monitoring were in the range of 0.1-136.9, 8.1-406.0, 0.8-24.1 and 0.4-105.5 ppb for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, respectively, which exceeded the NIOSH exposure limit of 100 ppb of benzene concentration. The risk assessment indicated that five stations reached an unacceptable risk of worker exposure to BTEX (HI>1), which correlated with the numbers of gasoline dispensers and daily gasoline sold. The risk matrix classified hazardous area-I at 4 meters and hazardous area-II at 4-8 meters in radius around the fuel dispensers. This study revealed the hazardous areas at gasoline stations and suggests that entrepreneurs must strictly control the safety operation practice of workers, install vapor recovery systems on dispenser nozzles to control BTEX vaporization and keep the hazardous areas clear of fire ignition sources within an eight-meter radius of the dispensers.

Authors: Sunisa Chaiklieng
; Full Source: PloS one 2021 Apr 15;16(4):e0249913. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0249913.