Health risk assessment of urban suspended particulate matter with special reference to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: a review

Rev Environ Health. 2001 Jul-Sep;16(3):169-89. doi: 10.1515/reveh.2001.16.3.169.


Airborne suspended particulate matter is an important marker of air quality. The term 'particulates' includes organic and inorganic matter, nitrogen compounds, sulphur compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), several heavy metals, and radionuclides. The health risks from the 'classic' pollutants sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, and particulates have been comprehensively reviewed. Alarming levels of non-classic pollutants like the PAHs have been reported globally. PAHs have been found in placental tissues of women and in umbilical cord blood samples from newborn babies. The damaged DNA in cord blood is a indication of the fate of these pollutants in the environment. Hence, a need exists for a comprehensive investigation of the human health-related aspects of exposure to particulates and PAHs in the urban environment. This paper reviews the literature on PAHs in conjunction with particulate matter on a global perspective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollutants / pharmacokinetics
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • DNA Damage
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Welfare
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mortality
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Particle Size
  • Placenta / chemistry
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / adverse effects*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / pharmacokinetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / chemically induced
  • Risk Assessment
  • Urban Population


  • Air Pollutants
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons