Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 443–451 | Cite as

Comparative health risk assessment of BTEX exposures from landfills, composting units, and leachate treatment plants

  • Kamyar Yaghmaien
  • Mostafa Hadei
  • Philip Hopke
  • Somaieh Gharibzadeh
  • Majid Kermani
  • Maryam Yarahmadi
  • Baharan Emam
  • Abbas ShahsavaniEmail author


This study assessed and compared the carcinogenic risks and hazard ratios of exposure to benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) within different units of a municipal solid waste disposal facility (Tehran, Iran), including the leachate treatment plant (LTP), the landfill, and a composting unit. Eight stations within the landfill site were sampled during summer and winter using NIOSH method 1501. The health risk assessment was conducted using the probabilistic risk model Oracle Crystal Ball. The probability distributions of risks were estimated. The average concentrations (±SD) of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and total BTEX were 9.01 (± 5.22), 11.44 (± 6.62), 14.56 (± 9.8), 24.06 (± 14.86), and 59.09 (± 32.38) ppbv, respectively. BTEX concentrations were significantly higher downwind of the disposal site compared to those in the upwind direction. The maximum carcinogenic risks of benzene in LTP, landfill, and composting unit were in excess of 1 × 10−4. Hazard ratios of BTEX were sufficiently low so as not to pose a significant risk to the workers’ health. However, maximum hazard ratios of benzene and total BTEX within landfill exceeded 1. In general, lifetime cancer risks and hazard ratios of BTEX were higher in landfill area compared to leachate treatment plant or the composting unit. Sensitivity analyses indicated that concentration and exposure duration had the largest impacts on the variance of the estimated risks. Individuals working in the landfill were at higher risk. An action plan is needed to reduce the risks from BTEX exposure in waste facilities by reducing the concentrations and/or exposure duration.


Benzene Cancer Occupational health VOCs Municipal solid waste Lifetime cancer risk 



This study was funded by grant No. 25194 from Center for Air Pollution Research (CAPR), Institute for Environmental Research (IER), Tehran University of Medical Sciences.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors indicate that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Media B.V., onderdeel van Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kamyar Yaghmaien
    • 1
  • Mostafa Hadei
    • 2
  • Philip Hopke
    • 3
    • 4
  • Somaieh Gharibzadeh
    • 5
  • Majid Kermani
    • 5
  • Maryam Yarahmadi
    • 6
  • Baharan Emam
    • 7
  • Abbas Shahsavani
    • 7
    • 8
    Email author
  1. 1.Center for Air Pollution Research (CAPR), Institute for Environmental Research (IER)Tehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  2. 2.Research Center for Environmental Determinants of Health (RCEDH)Kermanshah University of Medical SciencesKermanshahIran
  3. 3.Department of Public Health SciencesUniversity of Rochester School of Medicine and DentistryRochesterUSA
  4. 4.Center for Air Resources Engineering and ScienceClarkson UniversityPotsdamUSA
  5. 5.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public HealthIran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  6. 6.Environmental and Occupational Health CenterMinistry of Health and Medical EducationTehranIran
  7. 7.Environmental and Occupational Hazards Control Research CenterShahid Beheshti University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  8. 8.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public HealthShahid Beheshti University of Medical SciencesTehranIran

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