chemical information


Chemical Class:

Polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)

Found in these people:

not found

Found in these locations:

not found


PAHs are a group of chemicals formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage, or other organic substances, such as tobacco and charbroiled meat. Other sources of PAHs include asphalt and roofing tar. PAHs are found throughout the environment in air, water, and soil. There are more than 100 PAH compounds, and although the toxicity of individual PAHs is not identical, there are some similarities. PAHs are linked to cancer in both animals and humans. In humans, PAH exposure by inhalation or skin contact has been linked to cancer. Laboratory studies show that PAHs cause tumors in laboratory animals when inhaled, ingested, or in contact with the skin. PAHs cause birth defects, are toxic to the skin, blood, reproductive and immune systems in animals. Although robust information exists for only some of the PAHs investigated in this study, studies show that toxicity profiles are likely similar across all chemicals in this family. EPA has determined that seven PAH chemicals are "probable" human carcinogens: benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, chrysene, dibenz[a,h]anthracene, and indeno[ 1,2,3-c,d]pyrene. (ATSDR 1995).


Benz[a]anthracene has been found in 0 of the 8 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies. It has also been found in 3,031 of the 8,246 people tested in CDC biomonitoring studies.

Top health concerns for Benz[a]anthracene (References)

health concern or target organ weight of evidence
Reproduction and fertilityunknown

Results for Benz[a]anthracene

in blood serum (lipid weight)

Showing results from EWG/Commonweal Study #4, industrial chemicals and pesticides in cord blood, EWG Study #3, industrial chemicals and pesticides in adults

EWG/Commonweal results

  • found in 0 of 8 people in the group

found in 0 of 8 people

Detailed toxicity classifications (References)

classification governing entity/references
Reproductive effects - weight of evidence unknown/unassessedHombach-Klonisch, S., P. Pocar, et al. (2005). Molecular actions of polyhalogenated arylhydrocarbons (PAHs) in female reproduction. Curr Med Chem 12(5): 599-616.