Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination in the Italian diet

Food Addit Contam. Sep-Oct 1995;12(5):703-13. doi: 10.1080/02652039509374360.


The content of total and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Italian foods was measured. The highest levels of PAHs were found in pizza baked in wood-burning ovens and barbecued beef and pork. Relatively high levels were also found in beet greens and squash, apples and bread, fried beef, pork and rabbit, cured meats and chocolate. Conversely low levels were detected in potatoes and cooked fish, beverages and eggs. The daily intake of total and carcinogenic PAHs also was calculated by multiplying the average consumption of each food by its mean concentration of PAHs. Cereal and milk products, meat, vegetables and fruits were the highest contributors to total PAH intake, since these products are the most important dietary components in Italy. The calculated total dietary PAH intake was 3 micrograms/day per person. The calculated intake of carcinogenic PAHs was 1.4 microgram/day per person. The dietary intake of PAHs was high compared with the calculated respiratory intake (370 ng/day) owing to polluted city air in Italy. These results confirm that food is the major source of human exposure to PAHs, due in particular to the high consumption of contaminated cereal products.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bread / analysis
  • Carcinogens / administration & dosage
  • Carcinogens / analysis*
  • Cattle
  • Diet*
  • Edible Grain / chemistry
  • Food Contamination*
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Meat / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / administration & dosage
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Rabbits
  • Swine
  • Vegetables / chemistry


  • Carcinogens
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons