Aims: Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), among the main compounds present in polluted urban air, is of concern for children's health. Childhood exposure to PAH was assessed by urinary monitoring of 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OHP), a pyrene metabolite, investigating its association with exposure to air pollution and other factors related to PAH in air.
Methods: A group of 174 4-year-old children were recruited and a questionnaire on their indoor and outdoor residential environment was completed by parents. At the same time, environmental measurements of traffic-related air pollution (NO2) were carried out. A urine sample was collected from each child in order to analyze 1-OHP using HPLC with fluorescence detection, correcting for creatinine concentrations. Non-parametric tests and regression analyses were used to identify environmental factors that influence 1-OHP excretion.
Results: Mean urinary 1-OHP concentration was 0.061 micromol/mol creatinine, ranging from 0.004 to 0.314 micromol/mol. Non-parametric tests and regression analysis showed positive and significant associations (P<or=0.05) between 1-OHP and predicted residential exposure to NO2 (which was based on outdoor environmental measurements and geo-statistical analysis), self-reported residential vehicle traffic, passive smoking and cooking appliance. 1-OHP levels tended to be higher among children living in urban areas (0.062 micromol/mol vs. 0.058 micromol/mol for children living in rural areas) but differences were not significant (P=0.20).
Conclusion: In Southern Spain, concentrations of urinary 1-OHP were in the lower range of those generally reported for children living in non-polluted areas in Western Europe and the USA. Traffic-related air pollution, passive smoking and cooking appliance influenced urinary 1-OHP level in the children, which should be prevented due to the health consequences of the inadvertent exposure to PAH during development.