Occup Environ Med 61:e12 doi:10.1136/oem.2003.008375
  • Electronic pages

Biomarkers of exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from environmental air pollution

  1. G Castaño-Vinyals1,
  2. A D’Errico2,
  3. N Malats1,
  4. M Kogevinas1
  1. 1Respiratory and Environmental Research Unit, Municipal Institute of Medical Research, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2Servizio Sovrazonale di Epidemiologia, Grugliasco-Regione Piemonte, Torino, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Kogevinas
 Respiratory and Environmental Health Research Unit, Municipal Institute of Medical Reseach (IMIM), 80 Dr Aiguader Rd, Barcelona 08003, Spain; kogevinasimim
  • Accepted 5 September 2003


Metabolites of pyrene and DNA adducts have been used as biomarkers of high level exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). A systematic review was performed to evaluate whether these biomarkers are also valid markers of low level environmental exposure to PAHs. Thirty five studies were identified with more than 10 subjects that evaluated environmental air pollution to PAHs in relation to metabolites of PAHs, mainly hydroxypyrene (1-OHP), PAH-DNA adducts, or protein adducts. PAH metabolites and, to a less extent, PAH-DNA adducts correlated well at the group level with exposure to B(a)P even at low levels of air pollution. The use of these biomarkers should be more widely implemented in combination with more traditional techniques for the assessment of general population exposure to PAHs from ambient air pollution.