The objectives of this study to characterize exposure to respirable elemental carbon (EC), organic carbon (OC) and total carbon (TC) in relation to waste-handling activities and vehicle characteristics among workers who collect household wastes, and to examine the relationships among EC, OC and TC. A total of 72 household waste collectors were selected for exposure assessment over a full workday and most (70 of 72) exposures were collected from diesel emissions that underwent catalytic after-treatment by diesel particulate filters (DPFs). The exposure assessments were conducted from June through September 2014. Airborne EC and OC from the breathing zone were collected on pre-fired quartz filters and quantified using the thermal optical reflectance method. The average EC exposure level of the household waste collectors was 7.2 µg m–3 with a range of 2.0-30.4 µg m–3. A significant relationship between EC and TC exposure levels was observed (logTC = 0.38 × logEC + 3.22, p < 0.0001, adjusted R2 = 0.23). EC level (µg m–3), truck age (< 10 year-old vs. ≥ 10 year-old), type of waste collection job (collector vs. driver), current smoking status (yes vs. no) and month were found to significantly influence the level of TC exposure (n = 70, adjusted R2 = 0.56, p < 0.0001). The average exposure to EC of household waste collectors can be categorized into the relatively low exposure group when compared to other DE exposure jobs. TC was not a best surrogate for DE exposure in household waste collection environments because it was affected by other OC interferences that were not generated from diesel engines.