Determination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in urine of coke oven workers by headspace solid phase microextraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry

Chem Biol Interact. 2003 May 6;145(2):165-74. doi: 10.1016/s0009-2797(02)00255-7.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) represent a complex mixture of toxic compounds that are ubiquitous in the environment. We investigated the utility of head space-solid phase microextraction (HS-SPME) to measure the following surrogate PAHs in urine: naphthalene (NAP), phenanthrene (PHE), pyrene (PYR), and benzo(a)pyrene (BAP), representing classes of 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-ring compounds, respectively. We then applied the method to urine from 28 coke oven workers (median levels (microg/l) were: NAP=3.65, PHE=1.51, PYR=0.003, BAP not detected) and 22 controls (median (microg/l) NAP=0.859, PHE=0.062, PYR=0.001, BAP not detected). Urinary levels of NAP, PHE, and PYR were all associated with exposure category (controls, side- and bottom-workers, and top-workers) but not with smoking status. Strong correlations were observed between urinary levels of NAP, PHE, and PYR in coke-oven workers. Our results indicate that unmetabolized 2-, 3- and 4-ring PAHs can be measured in urine by HS-SPME. Such measurements can be used to investigate the uptake and metabolism of complex PAH mixtures in humans.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Coke*
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Industry*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / urine*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Smoking


  • Coke
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons