Personal exposure to atmospheric polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in a general adult population and lung cancer risk assessment

J Occup Environ Med. 2000 Feb;42(2):121-6. doi: 10.1097/00043764-200002000-00004.


Personal exposure to nine particulate-phase atmospheric polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was assessed among adult non-smoking volunteers in the Grenoble, France, metropolitan area. Using Toxic Equivalency Factors, the associated total atmospheric PAHs lifelong cancer risk was estimated. For 48 hours continuously, 38 subjects without specific occupational exposure to combustion sources carried a PM2.5 particles personal exposure monitor while at home, at work, commuting, or involved in other activities. One phase of the study took place in summer; a second in winter. The monitor set was composed of a pump with an airflow of 4, a 2.5-micron cyclone, and Teflon filters. The PAH concentrations were determined on seven PM2.5 filters by using high performance liquid chromatography with fluorimetric detection. The predominant PAHs are fluoranthene and indeno pyrene. According to the compound, the personal exposure estimates ranged from 0.13 to 1.67 ng/m3 (yearly means). The average benzo(a) pyrene value is 0.67 ng/m3 (95% confidence interval = 0 to 2.1 ng/m3). Winter exposures were 3 to 25 times greater than summer exposures. The total PAHs lung cancer lifelong risk is 7.8 10(-5) and is driven by exposure to benzo(a) pyrene. Although these risk estimates are 2 to 3 orders of magnitude lower than those associated with specific occupational exposures in the coal or smelter industries, they are of public health concern because they are spread over large urban populations. Further personal exposure studies in adult or children populations are needed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atmosphere / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / adverse effects*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sampling Studies
  • Seasons
  • Urban Population


  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons