Occurrence of the potent mutagens 2- nitrobenzanthrone and 3-nitrobenzanthrone in fine airborne particles

Sci Rep. 2019 Jan 9;9(1):1. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-37186-2.


Polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) are known due to their mutagenic activity. Among them, 2-nitrobenzanthrone (2-NBA) and 3-nitrobenzanthrone (3-NBA) are considered as two of the most potent mutagens found in atmospheric particles. In the present study 2-NBA, 3-NBA and selected PAHs and Nitro-PAHs were determined in fine particle samples (PM 2.5) collected in a bus station and an outdoor site. The fuel used by buses was a diesel-biodiesel (96:4) blend and light-duty vehicles run with any ethanol-to-gasoline proportion. The concentrations of 2-NBA and 3-NBA were, on average, under 14.8 µg g-1 and 4.39 µg g-1, respectively. In order to access the main sources and formation routes of these compounds, we performed ternary correlations and multivariate statistical analyses. The main sources for the studied compounds in the bus station were diesel/biodiesel exhaust followed by floor resuspension. In the coastal site, vehicular emission, photochemical formation and wood combustion were the main sources for 2-NBA and 3-NBA as well as the other PACs. Incremental lifetime cancer risk (ILCR) were calculated for both places, which presented low values, showing low cancer risk incidence although the ILCR values for the bus station were around 2.5 times higher than the ILCR from the coastal site.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't