This study was performed to assess exposure to and the risk caused by biphenyl in the workplace. Biphenyl is widely used as a heat transfer medium and as an emulsifier and polish in industry. Vapor or high levels of dust inhalation and dermal exposure to biphenyl can cause eye inflammation, irritation of respiratory organs, and permanent lesions in the liver and nervous system. In this study, the workplace environment concentrations were assessed as central tendency exposure and reasonable maximum exposure and were shown to be 0.03 and 0.12 mg/m3
, respectively. In addition, the carcinogenic risk of biphenyl as determined by risk assessment was 0.14 × 10−4
(central tendency exposure) and 0.56 × 10−4
(reasonable maximum exposure), which is below the acceptable risk value of 1.0 × 10−4
. Furthermore, the central tendency exposure and reasonable maximum exposure hazard quotients were 0.01 and 0.06 for oral toxicity, 0.05 and 0.23 for inhalation toxicity, and 0.08 and 0.39 for reproduction toxicity, respectively, which are all lower than the acceptable hazard quotient of 1.0. Therefore, exposure to biphenyl was found to be safe in current workplace environments. Because occupational exposure limits are based on socioeconomic assessment, they are generally higher than true values seen in toxicity experiments. Based on the results of exposure monitoring of biphenyl, the current occupational exposure limits in Korea could be reviewed.
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