Occupational inhalation and dermal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons with particular focus on carcinogenic risk. A contribution to data evaluation.


  • Anna Cenni




polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), occupational risk, excess carcinogenic risk


Occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) concern workers involved in various industrial activities: coal and oil transformation processes, activities that use products derived from them, exposure to exhaust from vehicle combustion or other combustion processes, exposure in asphalting processes, in the treatment of wood with creosote oil and others. PAHs present in coal combustion effluents, motor vehicle exhausts, used engine lubricating oils and tobacco smoke are mainly responsible for the carcinogenic potential of these mixtures. Measurements of exposure by environmental pollution analysis and biological monitoring, to assessment occupational risk due to their carcinogenicity, must take into account all the possible routes of entry into the body: in the professional field, both the cutaneous and inhalation routes are significant. The lack of occupational limit values in Legislative Decree 81/08 and in the European Directives (IOELV or BOELV) raises the question of how environmental and biological monitoring data can be managed to assess the risk associated with occupational exposure. This work was written with the aim of presenting in summary what is reported in various documents, considered useful for assessing the risk of exposure to PAHs. Starting from the document “ECHA Scientific report for evaluation of limit values ​​for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at the workplace”, published in 2022, where occupational respiratory exposure is mainly taken into consideration, the management of biological monitoring data and skin exposure is then discussed, as well as expression of the excess carcinogenic risk as a function of the extent of exposure through the definition of an exposure-risk relationship (ERR - exposure risk relationship).


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