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Concept: Aromatic hydrocarbon


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are the main toxic compounds in natural bitumen, a fossil material used by modern and ancient societies around the world. The adverse health effects of PAHs on modern humans are well established, but their health impacts on past populations are unclear. It has previously been suggested that a prehistoric health decline among the native people living on the California Channel Islands may have been related to PAH exposure. Here, we assess the potential health risks of PAH exposure from the use and manufacture of bitumen-coated water bottles by ancient California Indian societies.

Concepts: Human, Petroleum, Carbon, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Hydrocarbon, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Naphthalene


The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill resulted in 1.6-2.6 × 10(10) grams of petrocarbon accumulation on the seafloor. Data from a deep sediment trap, deployed 7.4 km SW of the well between August 2010 and October 2011, disclose that the sinking of spill-associated substances, mediated by marine particles, especially phytoplankton, continued at least 5 mo following the capping of the well. In August/September 2010, an exceptionally large diatom bloom sedimentation event coincided with elevated sinking rates of oil-derived hydrocarbons, black carbon, and two key components of drilling mud, barium and olefins. Barium remained in the water column for months and even entered pelagic food webs. Both saturated and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon source indicators corroborate a predominant contribution of crude oil to the sinking hydrocarbons. Cosedimentation with diatoms accumulated contaminants that were dispersed in the water column and transported them downward, where they were concentrated into the upper centimeters of the seafloor, potentially leading to sustained impact on benthic ecosystems.

Concepts: Petroleum, Carbon, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Hydrocarbon, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Phytoplankton, Diatom


BACKGROUND: Sensitization to cockroach is one of the strongest identified risk factors for greater asthma morbidity in low-income urban communities; however, the timing of exposures relevant to the development of sensitization has not been elucidated fully. Furthermore, exposure to combustion byproducts, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), can augment the development of allergic sensitization. OBJECTIVE: We sought to test the hypotheses that domestic cockroach allergen measured prenatally would predict cockroach sensitization in early childhood and that this association would be greater for children exposed to higher PAH concentrations. METHODS: Dominican and African American pregnant women living in New York City were enrolled. In the third trimester expectant mothers wore personal air samplers for measurement of 8 nonvolatile PAHs and the semivolatile PAH pyrene, and dust was collected from homes for allergen measurement. Glutathione-S-transferase μ 1 (GSTM1) gene polymorphisms were measured in children. Allergen-specific IgE levels were measured from the children at ages 2, 3, 5, and 7 years. RESULTS: Bla g 2 in prenatal kitchen dust predicted cockroach sensitization at the ages of 5 to 7 years (adjusted relative risk [RR], 1.15; P = .001; n = 349). The association was observed only among children with greater than (RR, 1.22; P = .001) but not less than (RR, 1.07; P = .24) the median sum of 8 nonvolatile PAH levels. The association was most pronounced among children with higher PAH levels and null for the GSTM1 gene (RR, 1.54; P = .001). CONCLUSIONS: Prenatal exposure to cockroach allergen was associated with a greater risk of allergic sensitization. This risk was increased by exposure to nonvolatile PAHs, with children null for the GSTM1 mutation particularly vulnerable.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Asthma, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Hydrocarbon, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Aromaticity, Naphthalene, Pyrene


Recent studies documented significantly higher concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in settled house dust in living spaces adjacent to parking lots sealed with coal-tar-based products, as well as in nearby soil. To date, no studies have examined the potential human health effects of PAHs from these products in dust and soil. Here we present the results of an analysis of potential cancer risk associated with incidental ingestion exposures to PAHs in settings near coal-tar-sealed pavement. Exposures to benzo[a]pyrene equivalents were characterized across five scenarios. Deterministic and probabilistic methods were used to calculate excess lifetime cancer risk arising from exposures to PAHs in house dust, soil, and both media. The central tendency estimate of excess cancer risk resulting from lifetime exposures to soil and dust via non-dietary ingestion in these settings exceeded 1 * 10-4 in both deterministic and probabilistic estimates. Soil was the primary driver of risk, but according to probabilistic calculations, reasonable maximum exposure to affected house dust in the first 6 years of life was sufficient to generate risk in excess of 1 * 10-4. Our results indicate that the presence of coal-tar-based pavement sealants is associated with significant increases in estimated excess lifetime cancer risk for nearby residents. Much of this calculated excess risk arises from exposures to PAHs in childhood (i.e., ages 0-6).

Concepts: Mathematics, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Aromaticity, 1990s music groups, Dust, Naphthalene


Cooking oil fumes (COF) contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heterocyclic aromatic amines, benzene, and formaldehyde, which may cause oxidative damages to DNA and lipids. We assessed the relations between exposure to COF and subsequent oxidative DNA damage and lipid peroxidation among military cooks and office-based soldiers. The study population, including 61 Taiwanese male military cooks and a reference group of 37 office soldiers, collected urine samples pre-shift of the first weekday and post-shift of the fifth workday. We measured airborne particulate PAHs in military kitchens and offices and concentrations of urinary 1-OHP, a biomarker of PAH exposure, urinary 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), a biomarkers of oxidative DNA damage, and urinary isoprostane (Isop). Airborne particulate PAHs levels in kitchens significantly exceeded those in office areas. The concentrations of urinary 1-OHP among military cooks increased significantly after 5 days of exposure to COF. Using generalized estimating equation analysis adjusting for confounding, a change in log(8-OHdG) and log(Isop) were statistically significantly related to a unit change in log(1-OHP) (regression coefficient (β), β=0.06, 95% CI 0.001-0.12) and (β=0.07, 95% CI 0.001-0.13), respectively. Exposure to PAHs, or other compounds in cooking oil fumes, may cause both oxidative DNA damage and lipid peroxidation.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Carbon, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Hydrocarbon, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Aromaticity, Naphthalene


Potentially toxic 16 priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were determined in four brands of grounded coffee. Four to 13 PAHs were detected. Concentrations of total PAHs in different brands of coffee samples were in the range of 831.7-1,589.7 μg/kg. Benzo[a]pyrene (2A: probable human carcinogen) was found in Nescafe Premium whereas naphthalene (2B: possible human carcinogen) was found in all the samples of coffee.

Concepts: Carbon, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Hydrocarbon, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Aromaticity, Naphthalene, Carcinogens


In this study, flotation-assisted homogeneous liquid-liquid microextraction (FA-HLLME) was developed as a fast, simple, and efficient method for extraction of four polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil samples followed by gas chromatography-flame ionization detector (GC-FID) analysis. A special home-made extraction cell was designed to facilitate collection of the low-density extraction solvent without a need for centrifugation. In this method, PAHs were extracted from soil samples into methanol and water (1:1, v/v) using ultrasound in two steps followed by filtration as a clean-up step. The filtrate was added into the home-made extraction cell contained mixture of 1.0mL methanol (homogenous solvent) and 150.0μL toluene (extraction solvent). Using N(2) flotation, the dispersed extraction solvent was transferred to the surface of the mixture and was collected by means of a micro-syringe. Then, 2μL of the collected organic solvent was injected into the GC-FID for subsequent analysis. Under optimal conditions, linearity of the method was in the range of 40-1000μgkg(-1) soil (dry weight). The relative standard deviations in real samples varied from 5.9 to 15.2% (n=4). The proposed method was successfully applied to analyze the target PAHs in soil samples, and satisfactory results were obtained.

Concepts: Ethanol, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Solvent, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Toluene, Naphthalene


The arenium acid [mesitylene-H]+ has been shown to be an extraordinarily active H/D exchange catalyst for the perdeuteration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The reactions take place under ambient conditions in C6D6 as an inexpensive deuterium source. High isolated yields and excellent degrees of deuterium incorporation were achieved using the substrates para-terphenyl, fluoranthene, pyrene, triphenylene, and corannulene.

Concepts: Hydrogen, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Organic chemistry, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Pyrene, Fluoranthene


Embryo toxicity of particles generated by combustion processes is of special concern for human health. A significant part of these toxic effects is linked to the binding of some pollutants (like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs) to the Aryl hydrocarbon Receptor (AhR) and the activation of target genes, like the cytochrome P4501A. This activity was analyzed for ambient air and coal-combustion particle extracts in zebrafish embryos (the cyp1aDarT assay) and in two single-cell bioassays: the yeast-based YCM-RYA and the DR-luc (rat cells) assay. Observed AhR ligand activity of samples generally correlated to the predicted toxic effect according to their PAH composition, except for one of the coal combustion samples with an anomalously high activity in the cyp1aDarT assay. This sample induced deformities in zebrafish embryos. We concluded that the combination of morphological and molecular assays may detect embryonic toxic effects that cannot be predicted from chemical analyses or single-cell bioassays.

Concepts: Carbon, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, Benzene, Toxicology, Hydrocarbon, Toxicity, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator


The tendency for chlorinated aliphatics and aromatic hydrocarbons to accumulate in environments such as groundwater and sediments poses a serious environmental threat. In this study, the metabolic capacity of hydrocarbon (aromatics and chlorinated aliphatics)-contaminated groundwater in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa has been elucidated for the first time by analysis of pyrosequencing data. The taxonomic data revealed that the metagenomes were dominated by the phylum Proteobacteria (mainly Betaproteobacteria). In addition, Flavobacteriales, Sphingobacteria, Burkholderiales, and Rhodocyclales were the predominant orders present in the individual metagenomes. These orders included microorganisms (Flavobacteria, Dechloromonas aromatica RCB, and Azoarcus) involved in the degradation of aromatic compounds and various other hydrocarbons that were present in the groundwater. Although the metabolic reconstruction of the metagenome represented composite cell networks, the information obtained was sufficient to address questions regarding the metabolic potential of the microbial communities and to correlate the data to the contamination profile of the groundwater. Genes involved in the degradation of benzene and benzoate, heavy metal-resistance mechanisms appeared to provide a survival strategy used by the microbial communities. Analysis of the pyrosequencing-derived data revealed that the metagenomes represent complex microbial communities that have adapted to the geochemical conditions of the groundwater as evidenced by the presence of key enzymes/genes conferring resistance to specific contaminants. Thus, pyrosequencing analysis of the metagenomes provided insights into the microbial activities in hydrocarbon-contaminated habitats.

Concepts: Bacteria, Biotechnology, Benzene, Hydrocarbon, Proteobacteria, Aromatic hydrocarbon, Aromaticity, Naphthalene