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Yakugaku Zasshi. 2012;132(3):325-9.

[How do transport and metabolism affect the biological effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons?].

[Article in Japanese]

Author information

  • 1Division of Environmental Science and Engineering, Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Kanazawa University, Ishikawa, Japan. k.bekki@stu.kanazawa-u.ac.jp


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), some of which are carcinogenic/mutagenic, are generated by combustion of fossil fuels and also released through tanker or oilfield accident to cause a large scale environmental pollution. PAHs concentration in China is especially high in East Asia because of many kinds of generation sources such as coal heating systems, vehicles and factories without exhaust gas/particulate treatment systems. So, the atmospheric pollution caused by PAHs in China has been seriously concerned from the view point of health effects. Like yellow sand and sulfur oxide, PAHs exhausted in China are also transported to Japan. Additionally, strongly mutagenic nitrated PAHs (NPAHs), estrogenic/antiestrogenic PAH hydroxides (PAHOHs) and reactive oxygen species-producing PAH quinones (PAHQs) are formed from PAHs by the chemical reaction during the transport. Furthermore these PAHOHs and PAHQs are produced by the metabolism in animal body. In the biological activities caused by the above PAH derivatives, the structure-activity relationship was observed. In this review, our recent results on the generation of PAH derivatives by atmospheric transport and metabolism are reported. Also, the existing condition of PAHs as atmospheric pollutants is considered.

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