Sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure in non-occupationally exposed Koreans

Environ Mol Mutagen. 2003;42(4):250-7. doi: 10.1002/em.10196.


Urinary 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OHP), an exposure biomarker for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), was used to identify potential sources of PAH exposure for 660 Koreans who were not occupationally exposed to PAHs (65% male; 35% female; mean age, 36.5 +/- 11.1 years). In this study, 74% of subjects had detectable levels of urinary 1-OHP, with a concentration range of 0.001-3.796 microg/L (median, 0.079 microg/L). A backward elimination was conducted: five variables were selected with a significance level for removal of P < or = 0.1. The results of this study showed that residence in areas with relatively poor environmental conditions (Seoul and Suwon) was strongly associated with high concentrations of urinary 1-OHP (P = 0.007), while consumption of fried chicken and length of time spent outdoors had marginal positive associations with urinary 1-OHP levels (P = 0.06 and P = 0.09, respectively). Compared with the above three factors, tobacco smoking and urinary cotinine levels were poorly associated with urinary 1-OHP (P = 0.16 and 0.23, respectively). Pear consumption had an inverse association with urinary 1-OHP levels (P < 0.01). Individual variations in urinary 1-OHP concentrations were evaluated by considering the subjects' age, sex, and genetic polymorphisms in enzymes involved in the metabolism of PAHs. Among the individual variations, GSTT1-present subjects showed higher 1-OHP levels than GSTT1-absent subjects in cities having 10-microm particulate matter (PM(10)) levels and population density lower than those of Seoul and Suwon (P < 0.05). These epidemiological results suggest that the above factors that should be considered in preventing PAH exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Diet
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Korea
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / adverse effects*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Pyrenes / metabolism
  • Smoking


  • Biomarkers
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Pyrenes
  • Creatinine
  • Cotinine
  • 1-hydroxypyrene