Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Diagnostics and Chemical Markers of Exposure

The Organic Analytical Toxicology Branch develops and performs unique laboratory tests to measure organic environmental chemicals in people. Examples of available laboratory tests are shown in the table above. It lists the most common names for these chemicals, and their Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Numbers. Many of the chemicals, however, go by alternative names. Please visit the National Library of Medicine ChemID database websiteexternal icon and enter the chemical’s CAS Number. The page displayed after this search will include the chemical’s structure, and alternative names.

Laboratory Methods Panels

CDC’s laboratory methods are intended to evaluate population exposures and to support states in situations considered a public health concern. Please see the “Methods’ Access” tab in the tables found after clicking on each of the listed chemicals for additional information regarding these methods. Currently, CDC’s Organic Analytical Toxicology Branch does not have the capability of generating pilot or preliminary results in support of proposals to obtain public or private funds for a larger project.

Table of laboratory methods panels for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Chemical Specimen Type
CAS No. 2443-58-5
CAS No. 6344-67-8
CAS No. 2433-56-9
2- & 3-hydroxyphenanthrene
CAS No. 605-55-0
CAS No. 605-87-8
CAS No. 5315-79-7
1-naphthol or 1-hydroxynaphthalene
CAS No. 90-15-3
2-naphthol or 2-hydroxynaphthalene
CAS No. 135-19-3

Laboratory Method: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhanes/nhanes_11_12/pahs_g_met.pdfpdf icon

Hydroxylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons as biomarkers of exposure to wood smoke in wildland firefighters
Adetona O, Simpson CD, Li Z, Sjodin A, Calafat AM, Naeher LP. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2017 Jan;27(1):78-83. doi: 10.1038/jes.2015.75.
http://www.nature.com/jes/journal/v27/n1/pdf/jes201575a.pdfpdf iconexternal icon

Quantification of urinary mono-hydroxylated metabolites of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by on-line solid phase extraction-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry
Wang Y, Meng L, Pittman EN, Etheredge A, Hubbard K, Trinidad DA, Kato K, Ye X, Calafat AM. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2017 Feb;409(4):931-937. doi: 10.1007/s00216-016-9933-x.
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00216-016-9933-xexternal icon

Urinary polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites as biomarkers to woodsmoke exposure – results from a controlled exposure study
Li Z, Trinidad D, Pittman EN, Riley EA, Sjodin A, Dills RL, Paulsen M, Simpson CD. . J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2016 May-Jun;26(3):241-8. doi: 10.1038/jes.2014.94.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4532642/pdf/nihms713881.pdfpdf iconexternal icon

Monitoring exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in an Australian population using pooled urine samples
Thai PK, Heffernan AL, Toms LM, Li Z, Calafat AM, Peter Hobson P, Broomhall S, Mueller JF. Environ Int. 2016 Mar;88:30-5. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2015.11.019.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412015301033external icon

Development of urine standard reference materials for metabolites of organic chemicals including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, phthalates, phenols, parabens, and volatile organic compounds
Schantz MM, Benner BA Jr, Heckert NA, Sander LC, Sharpless KE, Vander Pol SS, Vasquez Y, Villegas M, Wise SA, Alwis KU, Blount BC, Calafat AM, Li Z, Silva MJ, Ye X, Gaudreau É, Patterson DG Jr, Sjödin A.. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2015 Apr;407(11):2945-54.
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00216-014-8441-0external icon

Biomonitoring of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons exposure in small groups of residents in Brisbane, Australia and Hanoi, Vietnam, and those travelling between the two cities
Thai PK, Li Z, Sjödin A, Fox A, Diep NB, Binh TT, Mueller JF. Chemosphere. 2015 Jul 13;139:358-364. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2015.07.004.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653515007225external icon

Urinary polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (OH-PAH) metabolite concentrations and the effect of GST polymorphisms among US Air Force personnel exposed to jet fuel
Rodrigues EG, Smith K, Maule AL, Sjodin A, Li Z, Romanoff L, Kelsey K, Proctor S, McClean MD. J Occup Environ Med. 2014 May;56(5):465-71. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000142.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5137189/pdf/nihms831828.pdfpdf iconexternal icon

Lung function, airway inflammation, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons exposure in mexican schoolchildren: a pilot study
Barraza-Villarreal A, Escamilla-Nuñez MC, Schilmann A, Hernandez-Cadena L, Li Z, Romanoff L, Sjödin A, Del Río-Navarro BE, Díaz-Sanchez D, Díaz-Barriga F, Sly P, Romieu I. J Occup Environ Med. 2014 Apr;56(4):415-9. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000111.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604599/pdf/nihms726393.pdfpdf iconexternal icon

Time trends of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure in New York City from 2001 to 2012: assessed by repeat air and urine samples
Jung KH, Liu B, Lovinsky-Desir S, Yan B, Camann D, Sjodin A, Li Z, Perera F, Kinney P, Chillrud S, Miller RL. Environ Res. 2014 May;131:95-103. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2014.02.017.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4031101/pdf/nihms577013.pdfpdf iconexternal icon

CDC’s laboratory methods are intended to evaluate population exposures and to support states in situations considered a public health concern. CDC does not provide individual health care or assessment unless as part of a broader public health investigation requested by federal or state agencies, such as a health department. Currently, CDC’s Organic Analytical Toxicology Branch does not have the capability of generating pilot or preliminary results in support of proposals to obtain public or private funds for a larger project.

Detecting levels of an environmental chemical in a person’s blood or urine does not necessarily mean the chemical will cause adverse health effects or disease. Advances in analytical methods enable CDC to measure very low levels of environmental chemicals in people, but research studies of varying levels of exposure are needed to determine if specific levels cause health effects. Consulting a clinician with a toxicological background to assist with the interpretation of results is recommended.

Samples to be tested should be processed through a state health department laboratory, and should conform to the laboratory’s reporting procedures. These laboratory methods often require that the sample be collected by a particular method, or sometimes with particular pre-screened collection devices, to minimize external contamination. Following the correct sample collection protocol is necessary for accurate sample measurement. Please contact the laboratory that will be analyzing the sample to learn the sample collection instructions before collecting the samples.

Contact DLSLab@cdc.gov for more information or questions about these laboratory methods.

Page last reviewed: March 6, 2019