Role of Pet Dogs and Cats as Sentinels of Human Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons



Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a large group of chemical contaminants, predominantly produced via fossil fuel combustion. They spread easily worldwide, so they are considered as semipersistent pollutants. Many of them are considered as carcinogenic or mutagenic compounds, for example, interacting directly with DNA. Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) is the most important and well-known PAH. Living beings are exposed everyday through air, water, plastic stuff and smoke and almost by food intake, because they are highly lipophilic. In human risk assessments, monitoring these compounds, or their products, in environment, biological or food samples has attracted enormous interest. Pets commonly share habitat and routine life with humans. In this chapter, the possibility that pets were good sentinels of human exposure to PAHs is studied in detail. Concentrations of parental PAHs and some metabolites between human and pets have been compared. In the case of dogs, their concentrations and profiles of PAHs are very different to those of humans when compared. Dogs had lesser concentration of parental compounds and higher concentration of their metabolites than humans. Similarly, cats present different concentrations and detection frequencies than humans. Therefore, the scarce data available indicate that dogs and cats seem to have different sources of exposition to PAHs than humans. Although more studies are needed, pets do not seem to be good sentinels for human exposure to PAHs.


Benzo(a)pyrene Dogs Cats Semipersistent organic pollutants Sentinels Carcinogenic chemicals Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Pets Sentinel Biomonitoring 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Toxicology Unit, Research Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences (IUIBS)Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran CanariaLas PalmasSpain
  2. 2.Spanish Biomedical Research Centre in Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERObn)Las PalmasSpain

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