Determination of terpene levels after the use of essential oil diffusers in vehicles and studio apartments using passive sampling

Pil Gon Kim, Arum Lee, Jaeho Shin, Eugene Song, Yerim Koo, Dana Fahad M.S. Mohamed, Soobin Choi, Yongseok Hong, Seokho Song, Incheol Noh, Jung Hwan Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The exposure levels of selected terpenes (limonene, α- and β-pinenes, and γ-terpinene) emitted by essential oil diffusers in vehicles and studio apartments were assessed using a passive sampling method. A previously developed passive sampler composed of an expanded polytetrafluoroethylene membrane and adsorbent (ePTFE PS) was enlarged and made wearable. Before field deployment, the sampling performance of the modified ePTFE PS for selected terpenes was compared with that of active sampling in a lab-scale 5 m3 test chamber under constant exposure conditions, supporting that passive sampling provides reasonable estimates of the time-weighted exposure concentration. Fifty volunteers were recruited and asked to wear the ePTFE PS while using an essential oil diffuser inside their own vehicle while commuting and in their studio apartment while sleeping. Terpene levels without an essential oil diffuser were very low in vehicles and 47, 3.6, 1.6, and 0.62 μg m−3 for average concentrations of limonene, α- and β-pinenes, and γ-terpinene in studio apartments, respectively, close to those reported in previous studies. The indoor concentrations of all selected terpenes in vehicles and studio apartments were elevated by the use of essential oil diffusers, especially in vehicles. The average concentration of limonene in vehicles after the use of essential oil diffusers was 11 μg m−3, which was greater than that before use by a factor of 30. Therefore, cautious usage of essential oil diffusers indoors where the volume is limited, such as a vehicle, is needed to reduce exposure to terpenes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number163071
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jun 25

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Korea Environment Industry and Technology Institute (KEITI) through the “Development of methods measuring cumulative exposure to hazardous chemicals under the use of consumer products using passive samplers,” funded by the Korea Ministry of Environment (MOE) (No. 2021002970002 and 2021002970004 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • Essential oil diffuser
  • Personal passive sampler
  • Studio apartment
  • Terpenes
  • Vehicle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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