Biological monitoring of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure in a highly polluted area of Poland

Environ Health Perspect. 1995 Sep;103(9):838-43. doi: 10.1289/ehp.103-1519226.


Air pollution in Poland and particularly in Silesia is among the worst in Europe. Many coal mines and coke oven plants are located in this area, representing a major source of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). We quantitated the PAH exposure level in air samples using personal sampling devices, collected urine samples from the same individuals, and measured 1-hydroxypyrene with high performance liquid chromatography. Samples were collected twice, once in February and once in September. Mean PAH level of samples collected at three different coke oven plants varied from 2.3 micrograms/m3 to 12.3 micrograms/m3; the lowest mean was in September. Mean levels of 0.15 micrograms/m3 (September) and 0.44 micrograms/m3 (February) were noted for the environmentally exposed group. Mean urinary 1-hydroxypyrene varied from 2.45 to 13.48 mumol/mol creatinine at the three coke oven plants. The corresponding variation between the three different environmentally exposed groups in Silesia was 0.41-1.54 mumol/mol creatinine. In the nonindustrialized area, the mean varied from 0.20 to 0.14 mumol/mol creatinine. Seasonal variation was found both at the coke oven plants and in the environmental exposed groups in Silesia. Both PAH levels and 1-hydroxypyrene varied seasonally among coke oven workers and the environmentally exposed group. Our study shows that PAH exposure in the industrialized area of Silesia is high compared to levels in Western Europe. 1-Hydroxypyrene excretion in environmentally exposed individuals in Poland is among the highest in Europe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutagens / analysis
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis
  • Poland
  • Polycyclic Compounds / analysis*
  • Polycyclic Compounds / metabolism
  • Pyrenes / analysis
  • Seasons


  • Air Pollutants
  • Mutagens
  • Polycyclic Compounds
  • Pyrenes
  • 1-hydroxypyrene