Simultaneous determination of urinary 1- and 2-naphthols, 3- and 9-phenanthrols, and 1-pyrenol in coke oven workers

Biomarkers. Mar-Apr 2003;8(2):93-109. doi: 10.1080/1354750021000046570.


A method was developed for simultaneous quantification of urinary 1- and 2-naphthols, 3- and 9-phenanthrols and 1-pyrenol using gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC-MS). This method was applied to urine samples from coke oven workers (n=28) and controls (n=22) from Northern China. Geometric mean levels of urinary 1-naphthol (58.8 microg l(-1)), 2-naphthol (34.1 microg l(-1)), 3-phenanthrol (7.35 microg l(-1)), 9-phenanthrol (1.28 microg l(-1)) and 1-pyrenol (25.4 microg l(-1)) were significantly higher among coke oven workers than controls. All the substances tested were highest among top-of-oven workers, who had 15-fold higher 1-naphthol, eight-fold higher 2-naphthol and 20-fold higher 1-pyrenol levels compared with controls. Using multiple linear regression models, 72.5% of the variation in 1- and 2-naphthol and 82.8% of the variation in 1-pyrenol were explained by the concentration of naphthalene or pyrene in the urine, the work category and the smoking intensity. Cigarette consumption significantly contributed to levels of urinary 1-pyrenol and naphthols, particularly 2-naphthol. A negative relationship between work category and the ratio of naphthols/1-pyrenol was observed among smokers. Our results suggest that urinary naphthols and phenanthrols reflect polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure as well as the widely used 1-pyrenol, and that interactions between cigarette smoking and PAH exposure result in different patterns of metabolism for individual PAHs.

Publication types

  • 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

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Biomarkers
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Metallurgy*
  • Naphthols / urine*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Phenanthrolines / urine*
  • Pyrenes / analysis*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Smoking / urine
  • Specimen Handling


  • Biomarkers
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Naphthols
  • Phenanthrolines
  • Pyrenes
  • Creatinine
  • 1-hydroxypyrene