Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Michael L. Shelley, PhD


The purpose of this study is two-fold. First, it shows that physiological differences between men and women result in gender-specific exposures with respect to benzene. Second, it assesses the potential for a lactating woman's occupational and personal benzene exposure to impact a nursing infant's exposure, highlighting the possibility of subjecting an infant to the effects of industrial chemicals via breast feeding. This study employs physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling to investigate the influence of physiological parameters and to evaluate the ability of inhaled benzene to transfer from mother to infant through breastmilk. The models are run through scenarios that simulate occupational, smoking, and background exposures. The gender comparison is facilitated by a sensitivity analysis. The blood/air partition coefficient and maximum velocity of metabolism were found to substantially impact model output. These values were both higher in women and caused an increase in the percentage of benzene metabolized in all of the exposure scenarios. The study of lactating women and infants is essentially theoretical. There is evidence that over 65% of an infant's benzene exposure can be attributed to contaminated breastmilk. A large portion of the ingested exposure can be eliminated by adjusting the mother's working or nursing schedule.

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The author's Vita page is omitted.