Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 21, Issue 23, pp 13152–13159 | Cite as

Children and elders exposure assessment to particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the city of Rome, Italy

  • Maria Pia Gatto
  • Claudio Gariazzo
  • Andrea Gordiani
  • Nunziata L’Episcopo
  • Monica Gherardi
Chemistry in a sustainable society


It has been amply demonstrated that exposure to fine particulate matter, containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), may have adverse effects on human health, affecting especially the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Among population, school-age children and elders present particular susceptibilities and unique exposures to environmental factors. The study presented in this paper belongs to the Project EXPAH, founded by the European (EU) LIFE+ instrument, and consists of the personal monitoring of five elementary school children and four elders during the spring and the summer/autumn of the year 2012 in the city of Rome, Italy. The average exposure, expressed as the sum of eight high-molecular-weight PAHs, resulted equal to 0.70 ng/m3 (SD = 0.37) for children and 0.59 ng/m3 (SD = 0.23) for the elderly people. The mean levels of gravimetric PM2.5 were equal to 23 μg/m3 (SD = 10) and 15 μg/m3 (SD = 4) for children and elders, respectively. During spring and summer seasons, personal BaPeq resulted well below the EU Air Quality reference value of 1 ng/m3. The personal monitoring average values were in the same order of magnitude with available indoor and outdoor environmental data in Rome during the same periods, for both PAHs and PM2.5. The results suggest that, during non-heating seasons, the personal exposure to PAHs in the city of Rome can be mainly ascribed to the urban background, especially traffic emissions and road dust resuspension; secondhand cigarette smoke can be also considered another possible source of PAHs personal exposure.


Air pollution Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Particulate matter Children’s health risks Personal monitoring GC-MS 



The authors would like to thank the EU LIFE+ instrument, which has supported this work. The authors would also like to thank our partners within the EXPAH Project: A. Cecinato, P. Romagnoli, C. Balducci, and M. Perilli, from the National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research (CNR-IIA), who provided some essential environmental data to the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Pia Gatto
    • 1
  • Claudio Gariazzo
    • 2
  • Andrea Gordiani
    • 1
  • Nunziata L’Episcopo
    • 1
  • Monica Gherardi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Occupational HygieneINAILMonte Porzio CatoneItaly
  2. 2.Department for Production Facilities and Human SettlementsINAILMonte Porzio CatoneItaly

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