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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) guidance · PDF filePolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons...

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  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (Benzo[a]pyrene)

    General Information

    Key Points Identity

    The term polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) refers to a group of several hundred chemically-related environmentally persistent organic compounds of various structures and varied toxicity

    Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is commonly used as an indicator species for PAH contamination and most of the available data refer to this compound

    Fire

    May react violently with oxidising agents Emits toxic and irritating fumes on decomposition In the event of fire involving PAHs, use fine water spray and liquid tight chemical

    protective equipment

    Health Toxic by inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption Carcinogen, mutagen and reproductive toxin Long-term inhalation can cause a decrease in lung function, chest pain and irritation Long-term skin contact can cause dermatitis and warts BaP is thought to probably cause lung and skin cancer in humans

    Environment

    Environmentally hazardous substance Inform Environment Agency of substantial release incidents

    Prepared by the Toxicology Department CRCE, PHE

    2008 Version 1

  • POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS GENERAL INFORMATION

    General Information: Page 2 of 3

    Background

    Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a diverse class of organic compounds. There are several hundred PAHs, which usually occur as complex mixtures rather than as individual compounds. The most well known PAH is benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), on which this report focuses. PAH are flammable, colourless solids or crystals at room temperature with no perceptible odour. PAHs may be formed during natural processes such as incomplete combustion of organic materials such as coal and wood, or during forest fires. PAHs are released during industrial activities such as aluminium, iron and steel production in plants and foundries, waste incineration, mining or oil refining. PAHs have also been detected at low levels in cigarette smoke and motor vehicle emissions. They are persistent organic pollutants and are slow to degrade in the environment.

    PAHs have been found to be present in very small amounts in some foods including meat, fruit, vegetables and cereals. Various cooking processes such as charbroiling, frying or grilling, as well as barbequing or smoking also increases the amount of PAHs in food. Overall, the major route of exposure to PAHs in the general population is from breathing ambient and indoor air, eating food containing PAHs, smoking cigarettes,

    or breathing smoke from open fireplaces. Occupational exposure may also occur in workers breathing in exhaust fumes, such as mechanics, street vendors, motor vehicle drivers, as well as those involved in mining, metal working or oil refining.

    If exposed to PAHs, the harmful effects that may occur largely depend on the way people are exposed. Various studies on workers that breathed in or touched PAHs for a long time have suggested that PAHs may cause lung or skin cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated that some PAHs are carcinogenic to humans. Occupational exposure may also cause breathing problems, chest pain and irritation and coughing.

    There have been no studies that looked at whether PAHs affect the unborn child or fertility in humans, but animal studies have shown that some PAHs affect reproduction and the development of offspring. Children exposed to PAHs will have the same symptoms as adults.

  • POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS GENERAL INFORMATION

    General Information: Page 3 of 3

    Frequently Asked Questions What are PAHs? PAHs are a group of chemicals that are produced during the incomplete combustion of organic substances such as coal, oil, gas and wood. How do PAHs get into the environment? The main way PAHs can enter the environment is due to the incomplete combustion of organic materials such as coal and wood, from forest fires and from vehicle exhausts. How will I be exposed to PAHs? The major sources of PAHs to the general public include inhalation of tobacco smoke, wood smoke and ambient air, and consumption of PAHs in food such as cereals, bread or processed food, as well as fruit and vegetables grown in contaminated soil. Charbroiling and grilling food at high temperatures also increases the amount of PAHs in the food. Other sources of PAHs include vehicle exhausts, asphalt roads and waste incineration. Occupational exposure may occur in workers inhaling engine exhaust, such as mechanics, street vendors and drivers, as well as those working in industries such as mining, oil refining and metal working. If there are PAHs in the environment will I have any adverse health effects? The presence of PAHs in the environment does not always lead to exposure as you must come into contact with the chemical. You may be exposed by breathing, eating, or drinking the substance or by skin contact. Following exposure to any hazardous chemical, the adverse health effects you may encounter depend on several factors, including the amount to which you are exposed (dose), the duration of exposure, the way you are exposed and if you were exposed to any other chemicals. Some PAHs, including BaP caused tumours in animals when they breathed, ate or had skin contact for long periods. Studies in humans have shown that breathing or skin contact for long periods may cause lung or skin cancer. Can PAHs cause cancer? Several PAHs, including BaP, have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as being carcinogenic in humans. Do PAHs affect children or damage the unborn child? Animals fed high concentrations of BaP during pregnancy had future fertility problems, as did the offspring, which also showed some birth defects in some breeds of mice. There are few studies in humans so it is unclear whether these effects also occur in people. What should I do if I am exposed to PAHs? It is very unlikely that the general population will be exposed to a level of PAHs high enough to cause adverse health effects.

    This document has been created by the PHE Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards. The information contained in this document is correct at the time of its publication.

  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (Benzo[a]pyrene)

    Incident management

    Key Points Fire

    Combustible Incompatible with nitrogen dioxide and ozone. Emits fumes and acrid smoke when heated to decomposition.

    Health Toxic by inhalation, ingestion or dermal absorption Inhalation may cause respiratory tract irritation, damage the reproductive system and

    cause cancer Ingestion may cause gastrointestinal irritation Dermal exposure may cause skin irritation

    Environment

    Dangerous for the environment Inform Environment Agency of substantial incidents

    Prepared by the Toxicology Department CRCE, PHE

    02/2013 Version 2

  • POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS INCIDENT MANAGEMENT

    Incident Management: Page 2 of 11

    Hazard Identification Standard (UK) Dangerous Goods Emergency Action Codes

    UN

    Data not available

    EAC

    APP

    Hazards Class Sub risks

    HIN UN United Nations number; EAC Emergency Action Code; APP Additional Personal Protection; HIN - Hazard Identification Number

  • POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS INCIDENT MANAGEMENT

    Incident Management: Page 3 of 11

    Chemical Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply Classification(a)

    Classification

    Carc. Cat 2 Category 2 carcinogen

    Muta. Cat 2 Category 2 mutagen

    Repr. Cat 2 Category 2 reproductive toxin

    N Dangerous for the environment

    Risk phrases

    R45 May cause cancer

    R46 May cause heritable genetic damage

    R60 May impair fertility

    R61

    May cause harm to the unborn child

    R43 May cause sensitisation by skin contact

    R50/53 Very toxic to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment

    Safety phrases

    S53 Avoid exposure - obtain special instructions before use

    S45 In case of accident or if you feel unwell seek medical advice immediately (show the label where possible)

    S60 This material and its container must be disposed of as hazardous waste

    S61 Avoid release to the environment. Refer to special instructions/safety data sheet Specific concentration limit

    a Annex VI to Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures- Table 3.2. http://esis.jrc.ec.europa.eu/index.php?PGM=cla (accessed 02/2013)

    Concentration Classification C 0.01 % Carc. Cat 2; R45

  • POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS INCIDENT MANAGEMENT

    Incident Management: Page 4 of 11

    Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) (a)* *

    Carc. 1B Carcinogen, category 1B

    Muta. 1B Germ cell mutagen, category 1B

    Repr. 1B Toxic to reproduction, category 1B

    Skin Sens. 1 Skin sensitizer, category 1

    Aquatic Acute 1 Acute hazards to the aquatic environment

    Aquatic Chronic 1

    Chronic hazard to the aquatic environment, category 2

    Hazard Statement

    H350 May cause cancer

    H340 May cause genetic defects

    H360FD May damage fertility. May damage the unborn child

    a Annex VI to Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures- Table 3.1. http://esis.jrc.ec.europa.eu/index.php?PGM=cla (accessed 02/2013)

  • POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS INCIDENT M

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