BTEX is a group of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that includes benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylenes (ortho-xylene, meta-xylene, para-xylene). These compounds are found in petroleum derivatives, such as gasoline, crude oil, and diesel fuel. BTEX chemicals are widely used as intermediates in the manufacturing of products, such as paints, plastics, adhesives. BTEX compounds are recognized as toxins of concern and are marker compounds for environmental contamination.
Contamination can occur due to releases from underground storage tanks, refinery facilities, pipeline leaks, and surface spills. The main source BTEX in air is emission from vehicles and aircraft, which results in higher BTEX concentrations in areas of heavy traffic and gas stations. BTEX compounds are present in cigarette smoke and are formed in combustion processes. They are used in manufacturing of consumer products, such as paints, coatings, plastics, adhesives, rubber. The polarity, water solubility, and diffusivity parameters of BTEX compounds contribute to serious pollution problems in groundwater, soil, and air. Environmental remediation approaches for BTEX contamination can include natural attenuation, biostimulation, reactive barriers, soil vapor extraction/bioventing.
Acute health effects associated with exposure to BTEX vapours are eye, nose, and skin irritation and effects on the central nervous system (CNS), such as headache, tiredness, dizziness.
Chronic exposure to BTEX poses risks of cancer, damage to the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and nervous system. Benzene is a known Group-1 carcinogen and exposure to benzene has been linked with leukemia. The severity of health effects depends on the duration, dose and frequency of exposure, as well as the general health of an individual.
BTEX analysis at CASSEN Testing Laboratories provides concentrations of individual compounds, at industrial exposure levels (ppm) or at environmental levels (ppb) which can be used for monitoring worker exposure, the risk of contamination, and the need for remediation.