Cinnaminson, NJ, October 13th, 2014
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, garbage or other organic substances like tobacco or charbroiled meat. PAHs are often found as a mixture containing two or more of these compounds.
Some PAHs are also manufactured. These pure PAHs usually exist as colorless, white or pale yellow-green solids. PAHs are found in coal tar, crude oil, creosote and roofing tar, and a few are also used in medicines or to make dyes, plastics and pesticides. PAHs have been found in at least 600 of the 1,430 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Several years ago, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report that found sealcoats used on driveways, playgrounds and parking lots made with coal tar and containing PAHs were causing significant levels of these chemical compounds to be found in household dusts. The USGS study found levels of PAHs in apartment building dust that was 25 times higher than usual when a coal tar sealant was used in the parking lot as compared to other apartment buildings. They also found that levels of PAHs from dust taken directly on the treated pavement had levels of PAHs 530 times higher than non-treated surfaces.
People can be exposed to PAHs in many ways, including:
- Breathing air containing the chemicals in the workplace of coking, coal-tar, and asphalt production plants; smokehouses; and municipal trash incineration facilities.
- Breathing air containing PAHs from cigarette smoke, wood smoke, vehicle exhausts, asphalt roads or agricultural burn smoke.
- Coming in contact with air, water or soil near hazardous waste sites.
- Eating grilled or charred meats; contaminated cereals, flour, bread, vegetables, fruits, meats; and processed or pickled foods.
- Drinking contaminated water or milk.
- Nursing infants of mothers living near hazardous waste sites may be exposed to PAHs through their mother's milk.
“The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that some PAHs may reasonably be expected to be carcinogens,” said Vincent M. Daliessio, CIH, Project Manager at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “At EMSL, we offer testing services for PAHs to identify both occupational exposure risks and potential contamination concerns that some people may face in and around their properties.”
EMSL recently sponsored a video about polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and exposure risks that can be seen at: http://youtu.be/gJInmG51Pyo.
To learn more about testing for PAHs or other indoor air quality, environmental, health and safety issues, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800) 220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com.
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental, indoor air quality and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.