Occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in a fireproof stone producing plant: biological monitoring of 1-hydroxypyrene, 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-hydroxyphenanthrene, 3-hydroxybenz(a)anthracene and 3-hydroxybenzo(a)pyrene

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2000 May;73(4):270-4. doi: 10.1007/s004200050427.


Objectives: Assessment of external and internal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in a fireproof stone producing plant.

Methods: Five personal and four stationary air measurements were performed to determine the concentrations of benz(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, chrysene, dibenz(a,h)anthracene, fluoranthene, phenanthrene and pyrene, in air. To estimate internal exposure, we determined the urinary excretion of 1-hydroxypyrene, 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-hydroxyphenanthrene, 3-hydroxybenz(a)anthracene and 3-hydroxybenzo(a)pyrene in 19 workers, using a sensitive and reliable high-performance liquid chromatographic method with fluorescence detection.

Results: During the production of fireproof stones, the German technical exposure limit (TRK) for benzo(a)pyrene of 2 microg/m3 was exceeded in two cases. The mean values of the sum of eight PAHs were 12.6 microg/m3 (stationary air measurement) and 22.2 microg/m3 (personal air measurement). Urinary 1-hydroxypyrene excretion predominated, with a median of 11.1 microg/g creatinine (creat.), followed by 3-hydroxyphenanthrene (median 2.2 microg/g creat.), 1-hydroxyphenanthrene (median 1.9 microg/g creat.) and 2-hydroxyphenanthrene (median 1.6 microg/g creat.). 4-Hydroxyphenanthrene (median 0.3 microg/g creat.) and 3-hydroxybenz(a)anthracene (median 0.17 microg/g creat.) were found in far lower concentrations, while 3-hydroxybenzo(a)pyrene was found only in very low concentrations (median 0.014 microg/g creat.). No correlations could be detected for a relationship between external and internal exposure. A significant correlation between urinary metabolite concentrations could be calculated only for 3-hydroxybenz(a)anthracene and 1-hydroxypyrene.

Conclusions: In comparison with other industries, the internal PAH exposure at workplaces in a fireproof stone producing plant is high. This is probably caused by dermal PAH-absorption. Therefore, biological monitoring must be performed in the health surveillance of fireproof stone producing workers. The urinary PAH metabolites should be determined: 3-hydroxybenz(a)anthracene could probably be used as a biomarker representing the group of carcinogenic PAH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutagens / analysis
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Phenanthrenes / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / adverse effects
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Pyrenes / analysis
  • Urinalysis


  • Biomarkers
  • Mutagens
  • Phenanthrenes
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Pyrenes
  • 1-hydroxypyrene