Inhalation cancer risk associated with exposure to complex polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon mixtures in an electronic waste and urban area in South China

Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Sep 4;46(17):9745-52. doi: 10.1021/es302272a. Epub 2012 Aug 22.


Atmospheric particulate matter samples were collected from May 2010 to April 2011 in a rural e-waste area and in Guangzhou, South China, to estimate the lifetime inhalation cancer risk from exposure to parent polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), high molecular weight PAHs (MW 302 PAHs), and halogenated PAHs (HPAHs). Seasonal variations in the PAH concentrations and profiles within and between the e-waste and urban areas indicated different PAH sources in the two areas. Benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[a]pyrene, dibenz[ah]anthracene, and dibenzo[al]pyrene made the most significant contribution to the inhalation cancer risk. MW 302 PAHs accounted for 18.0% of the total cancer risk in the e-waste area and 13.6% in the urban area, while HPAHs made a minor contribution (<0.1%) in both the areas. The number of lifetime excess lung cancers due to exposure to parent PAHs, MW 302 PAHs, and HPAHs ranged from 15.1 to 1198 per million people in the e-waste area and from 9.3 to 737 per million people in Guangzhou. PAH exposure accounted for 0.02 to 1.94% of the total lung cancer cases in Guangzhou. On average, the inhalation cancer risk in the e-waste area was 1.6 times higher than in the urban area. The e-waste dismantling activities in South China led to higher inhalation cancer risk due to PAH exposure than the urban area.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hydrocarbons, Halogenated / adverse effects
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Waste Management


  • Air Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons, Halogenated
  • Particulate Matter
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons