Inhalation exposure to ambient polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and lung cancer risk of Chinese population

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 15;106(50):21063-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0905756106. Epub 2009 Dec 7.


An Euler atmospheric transport model (Canadian Model for Environmental Transport of Organochlorine Pesticides, CanMETOP) was applied and validated to estimate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) ambient air concentrations at ground level in China based on a high-resolution emission inventory. The results were used to evaluate lung cancer risk for the Chinese population caused by inhalation exposure to PAHs. The uncertainties of the transport model, exposure, and risk analysis were assessed by using Monte Carlo simulation, taking into consideration the variation in PAH emission, aerosol and OH radical concentrations, dry deposition, respiration rate, and genetic susceptibility. The average benzo[a]pyrene equivalent concentration (B[a]P(eq)) was 2.43 [ approximately 1.29-4.50 as interquartile range (IR)] ng/m(3). The population-weighted B[a]P(eq) was 7.64 (IR, approximately 4.05-14.1) ng/m(3) because of the spatial overlap of the emissions and population density. It was estimated that 5.8% (IR, approximately 2.0-11%) of China's land area, where 30% (IR, approximately 17-43%) of the population lives, exceeded the national ambient B[a]P(eq) standard of 10 ng/m(3). Taking into consideration the variation in exposure concentration, respiration rate, and susceptibility, the overall population attributable fraction (PAF) for lung cancer caused by inhalation exposure to PAHs was 1.6% (IR, approximately 0.91-2.6%), corresponding to an excess annual lung cancer incidence rate of 0.65 x 10(-5). Although the spatial variability was high, the lung cancer risk in eastern China was higher than in western China, and populations in major cities had a higher risk of lung cancer than rural areas. An extremely high PAF of >44% was estimated in isolated locations near small-scale coke oven operations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Industrial Waste
  • Inhalation Exposure / analysis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / adverse effects*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Risk


  • Industrial Waste
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons