Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs): updated aspects of their determination, kinetics in the human body, and toxicity

Published: 15 August 2022| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/rdvt55szhr.1
Fernando Barbosa Jr


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are legacy pollutants of a tremendous public health concern. They arise from natural and anthropogenic sources and are ubiquitously present in environments. Several PAHs are highly toxic to humans; some have carcinogenic and mutagenic properties. Moreover, higher harmful effects on human- and environment’s health have been attributed to the presence of HMW PAHs, i.e., PAHs with molecular mass greater than 300 Da. However, much more research on low molecular weight (LMW PAHs) is available. Besides, no HMW PAHs are on the priority pollutants list of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), which is limited to only 16 PHAs. The restriction of analytical methodologies for separating and determining (HMW PAHs) and their potential isomers and the lack of readily available commercial standards make the research with HMW PAHs still challenging. Moreover, since most of the PAH kinetic data come from animal studies, our understanding of the behaviour of PAHs in humans is still minimal. Additionally, current knowledge of toxic effects after exposure to PAHs may be underrepresented since most studies focused on exposure to a single PAH. At the same time, information on PAH mixtures is very restricted. Thus, this review aims to critically assess the current knowledge of PAH chemical properties, their kinetic disposition, and toxicity to humans. Furthermore, future research needs to improve the missing information and minimize PAH exposure to humans are proposed.



Universidade de Sao Paulo


Literature Review