Encyclopedia of Cancer

Living Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

  • Brinda Mahadevan
  • Andreas Luch
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27841-9_4666-2



Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) belong to the more general class of polycyclic aromatic compounds that contain two or more aromatic rings fused together in a linear or angular configuration. PAHs consist of carbon and hydrogen only. Hence, polycyclic aromatic compounds containing heteroatoms (e.g., N, S, and O) in their molecular structure would not belong to the group of PAHs in a narrow sense of the chemical nomenclature.


Anthropogenic Origin and Carcinogenicity

PAHs are formed during incomplete combustion processes of organic matter. Due to the abundant use of fossil energy sources, PAHs are readily detectable as ubiquitous contaminants in the environment. Humans are exposed to complex mixtures of PAHs in the atmosphere from combustion sources such as cigarette smoking, vehicle emissions, and fossil fuels; and in foodstuffs from pyrolysis products such as overbarbequed meat or charbroiled food. In addition,...


Human Bronchial Epithelial Cell Polycyclic Aromatic Compound Carcinogenic PAHs Microsomal Epoxide Hydrolase Arylhydrocarbon Receptor Protein 
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  4. Luch A (2005) The carcinogenic effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Imperial College Press, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Abbott Nutrition, Regulatory AffairsAbbott LaboratoriesColumbusUSA
  2. 2.German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)BerlinGermany