Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 5, 2004
Previous Article Next Article

Naphthalene and its biomarkers as measures of occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

Author affiliations

Abstract

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) include compounds with two or more fused benzene rings, many of which are carcinogens. Industrial sources produce hundreds of PAH, notably in the coke- and aluminium-producing industries. Because PAH are distributed at varying levels between gaseous and particulate phases, exposure assessment has been problematic. Here, we recommend that occupational exposures to naphthalene be considered as a potential surrogate for occupational PAH exposure for three reasons. Naphthalene is usually the most abundant PAH in a given workplace; naphthalene is present almost entirely in the gaseous phase and is, therefore, easily measured; and naphthalene offers several useful biomarkers, including the urinary metabolites 1- and 2-hydroxynaphthalene. These biomarkers can be used to evaluate total-body exposure to PAH, in much the same way that 1-hydroxypyrene has been applied. Using data from published sources, we show that log-transformed airborne levels of naphthalene are highly correlated with those of total PAH (minus naphthalene) in several industries (creosote impregnation: Pearson r = 0.815, coke production: r = 0.917, iron foundry: r = 0.854, aluminium production: r = 0.933). Furthermore, the slopes of the log–log regressions are close to one indicating that naphthalene levels are proportional to those of total PAH in those industries. We also demonstrate that log-transformed urinary levels of the hydroxynaphthalenes are highly correlated with those of 1-hydroxypyrene among coke oven workers and controls (r = 0.857 and 0.876), again with slopes of log–log regressions close to one. These results support the conjecture that naphthalene is a useful metric for occupational PAH exposure. Since naphthalene has also been shown to be a respiratory carcinogen in several animal studies, it is also argued that naphthalene exposures should be monitored per se in industries with high levels of PAH.

Back to tab navigation

Publication details

The article was received on 04 Nov 2003, accepted on 12 Jan 2004 and first published on 12 Feb 2004


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B314088C
Citation: J. Environ. Monit., 2004,6, 413-416
  •   Request permissions

    Naphthalene and its biomarkers as measures of occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

    S. M. Rappaport, S. Waidyanatha and B. Serdar, J. Environ. Monit., 2004, 6, 413
    DOI: 10.1039/B314088C

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements