Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Environmental and Occupational Health

Major Professor

Raymond D. Harbison, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven P. Mlynarek, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Skai W. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Committee Member

M. Rony Francois, Ph.D.


Risk assessment, Air toxics, Leukemia, Carcinogenesis, Cancer threshold


Environmental airborne benzene is a ubiquitous hazardous air pollutant whose emissions are generated from multiple sources, including industrial emissions, fuel station emissions, and automobile emissions. Chronic occupational exposures to elevated levels of benzene are known to be associated with leukemic cancers, in particular, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), though epidemiological evidence regarding environmental exposures and subsequent AML development is lacking. This investigation uses historical airborne monitoring data from six counties in the State of Florida to characterize the environmental cancer risk from airborne benzene concentrations using current Federal and State regulatory analysis methodology, and a comparative analysis based on occupational epidemiological evidence. Airborne benzene concentrations were collected from 24 air toxics monitoring stations in Broward, Duval, Orange, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties. From the years 2003 - 2006, 3,794 air samples were collected using 8, 12, and 24 hr samples with sub-ambient pressure canister collectors consistent with EPA benzene methodological protocols 101 and 176. Mean benzene concentrations, by site, ranged from 0.18 - 3.58 ppb. Using risk analysis methodology consistent with the EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FLDEP) the resulting cancer risk estimates ranged from 4.37 x 10-6 to 8.56 x 10-5, exceeding the FLDEP's acceptable cancer risk level, 1 x 10-6 for all monitoring sites. The cumulative lifetime exposures were calculated in ppm-years by site, ranging from 0.036 - 0.702 ppmyears. A comparative analysis with available epidemiological literature revealed that associations between benzene exposure and cancer outcomes were related to cumulative lifetime exposures in great excess of 1 ppm-years. The results of this investigation indicate that it is not reasonable to expect additional cancer outcomes in Florida residents as a result of airborne benzene exposures consistent with measured concentrations, despite the fact that all regulatory risk calculations exceed acceptable cancer risk levels in the State of Florida.