Occurrence of carbazoles in dust and air samples from different locations in Germany


9H-carbazole is generated from incomplete combustion of diverse fossil fuels and biomass, in tobacco smoke and from industrial processes, while halogenated carbazoles have natural and anthropogenic sources. We analyzed 9H-carbazole and 14 halogenated carbazoles in dust samples from 14 schools, 13 daycare centers, and 13 residences, as well as 5 indoor air samples from residences in Munich, Germany. Overall, we present first data of various carbazoles in different indoor environments without visible combustion sources. The median (95th percentile) values of the halogenated analytes mainly detected in the entire study group were 10.3 ng/g (308 ng/g) for 9H-carbazole, 13.3 ng/g (735 ng/g) for 3,6-dichloro-9H-carbazole, 6.2 ng/g (159 ng/g) for 1,3,6-tribromo-9H-carbazole, and 1.2 ng/g (21.1 ng/g) for 2,7-dibromo-9H-carbazole. For most of the target analytes, the highest concentrations were observed in dust samples from schools, and the lowest were found in residences. In the air samples, all analytes were found only at low levels, with median values of 7.7 pg/m3 for 9H-carbazole and 6.1 pg/m3 for 2,3,6,7-tetrachloro-9H-carbazole. For 9H-carbazole, “typical” and “high” non-dietary intake of children through dust ingestion using median and 95th percentile values were calculated to be 0.03 ng/kg b.w. and 1.1 ng/kg b.w. daily, respectively. Due to limited toxicological information and exposure data for other relevant pathways (e.g., dietary intake), the risk assessment is inconclusive. Nevertheless, there are indications that 9H-carbazole has carcinogenic properties and that halogenated carbazoles have dioxin-like toxicities. Therefore, further research is essential.
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