chemical Class

Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Chemicals in the class:

Acenaphthene, Acenaphthylene, Anthracene, Benz[a]anthracene, Benzo[a]pyrene, Benzo[b/j]fluoranthene, Benzo[e]pyrene, Benzo[ghi]perylene, Benzo[k]fluoranthene, Chrysene, Dibenz[ah]anthracene, Fluoranthene, Fluorene, Indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene, Naphthalene, Perylene, Phenanthrene, Pyrene

Found in these people:

Baby #1, Baby #2, Baby #5, Baby #6, Baby #8, Anonymous Adult 1, Kathy Fowler, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter

Found in these locations:

Rockville, MD; Upstate New York, NY


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).

Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) has been found in 8 of the 8 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies.

Top health concerns for Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (References)

health concern or target organ weight of evidence
Reproduction and fertilityunknown

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.