The adsorption of benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) on to three types of asbestos (chrysotile antophyllite, and amosite) and three types of manmade mineral fibres (MMMF) (rock wool, slag wool, and glass wool) in a physiological water solution was studied. Adsorption was determined from the decrease in the liquid concentration of BaP on the addition of the solid material. Results show that all the fibres weakly adsorb BaP, approximately within the same order of magnitude. The combined adsorption of BaP and phosphatidylcholine (PC) on to chrysotile and amosite asbestos and on to rock wool in aqueous solution was also studied. PC, one of the major constituents in lung surfactant, forms a separate lipid phase in water consisting of micellar liposomes or lipid bilayers. A decrease in the liquid concentration of PC was found when any of the three materials was added, indicating adsorption of the lipid phase on to the fibres. A coincident decrease in the liquid concentration of BaP was also found indicating that BaP is readily solubilised in PC and will accompany the adsorption of this compound on to the fibres. Owing to the high lipid aqueous partition coefficient of BaP, it is concluded that the direct adsorption of BaP on to the fibres will be negligible when PC is present in the system even at low concentrations. Phospholipid adsorption by the fibres and not their direct adsorption of aromatic hydrocarbons should therefore be the crucial parameter for this indirect interaction between fibres and aromatic hydrocarbons.
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