Objective: Urinary 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OHP) has been used as a biological marker of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and urinary 2-naphthol is suggested as a new marker for route-specific exposure to airborne PAHs. We analyzed urinary 1-OHP and 2-naphthol concentrations in 292 male Koreans (129 university students and 163 shipyard workers) to define the distribution pattern in Koreans with no or low occupational exposure to PAHs.
Method: Histories of cigarette smoking and the eating of PAH-containing foods were obtained by a self-administered structured questionnaire. Urine samples were collected and urinary 1-OHP and 2-naphthol concentrations were measured using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).
Results: The arithmetic (geometric) means of urinary 1-OHP and 2-naphthol concentrations for all students, expressed as micromoles per mole of creatinine, were 0.04 (0.04) and 3.12 (2.22), for non-smokers 0.03 (0.03) and 1.78 (1.30) and for smokers 0.05 (0.03) and 4.36 (3.62), respectively. Among shipyard workers, the arithmetic (geometric) means of urinary 1-OHP and 2-naphthol concentrations were 0.69 (0.31) and 4.37 (2.62) for all, 0.27 (0.18) and 2.46 (1.16) for nonsmokers, and 0.97 (0.44) and 5.60 (4.44) for smokers, respectively. Mean urinary 1-OHP and 2-naphthol concentrations differed significantly between nonsmokers and smokers both in students and in shipyard workers. In smokers, some variables related to smoking habit were positively correlated with urinary 1-OHP and with 2-naphthol concentrations. The latter showed better correlations with the variables related to smoking amount than the former. None of the food-related factors was significantly correlated with urinary 1-OHP or 2-naphthol concentration.
Conclusion: These results suggest that urinary 2-naphthol concentration is more sensitively affected by smoking status than urinary 1-OHP concentration and that urinary 2-naphthol is a sensitive marker for low-level inhalation of PAHs.