Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolite levels and pediatric allergy and asthma in an inner-city cohort

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2010 Mar;21(2 Pt 1):260-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2009.00980.x. Epub 2009 Dec 9.


Exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) has been associated with allergic sensitization and asthma. We hypothesized that increased urinary PAH metabolites are associated with allergy or asthma among children age 5 yrs in an inner-city birth cohort. As part of an ongoing prospective birth cohort under the auspices of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH), urine was collected from 5-yr-old children (n = 222) of Dominican American and African American mothers in Northern Manhattan and South Bronx of New York City. Twenty-four PAH metabolites were measured in these specimens, and their levels (unadjusted and specific gravity corrected) were evaluated with IgE levels and asthma outcomes. Ten metabolites were detected in urine from all children. Concentrations ranged higher than those in representative samples of US children ages 6-11 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Among CCCEH children, compared with African Americans, the Dominican children had higher 2-hydroxynaphthalene but lower 9-hydroxyfluorene and 4-hydroxyphenanthrene concentrations. Increased 3-hydroxyfluorene and 3-hydroxyphenanthrene levels were associated with higher anti-mouse IgE levels (p < 0.05). These plus 2-hydroxynaphthalene, 2-hydroxyflourene and 1-hydroxyphenanthrene concentrations were associated with higher anti-mouse IgE levels on multivariate analyzes. Increased 2-hydroxyphenanthrene, 3-hydroxyphenanthrene and 4-hydroxyphenanthrene levels were associated with higher anti-cat IgE levels (p < 0.05) in univariate, but not multivariate, analyzes. Levels of PAH metabolites were not associated with respiratory symptoms. Measures of PAH metabolites suggest considerable exposure in an urban pediatric population, and possible associations with allergic sensitization to mouse.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / metabolism
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity
  • Air Pollutants / urine*
  • Animals
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / urine
  • Cats
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Hypersensitivity / urine
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mice / immunology
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / metabolism
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / urine*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Immunoglobulin E