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J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2011 Mar-Apr;21(2):123-32. doi: 10.1038/jes.2009.68. Epub 2009 Dec 30.

Determinants of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon levels in house dust.

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School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


Estimation of human exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is often desired for the epidemiological studies of cancer. One way to obtain information about indoor levels of PAHs is to measure these chemicals in house dust. In this study, we evaluated the predictive value of self-reported and geographic data for estimating measured levels of nine PAHs in house dust from 583 households in the Northern California Childhood Leukemia Study (NCCLS). Using multivariable linear regression models, we evaluated the effects on house-dust PAH concentrations from the following covariates: residential heating sources, smoking habits, house characteristics, and outdoor emission sources. House dust was collected from 2001 to 2007, using both high-volume surface samplers and household vacuum cleaners, and was analyzed for nine PAHs using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. All nine PAHs were detected in more than 93% of dust samples, with median concentrations ranging from 14 to 94‚ÄČng/g dust. Statistically significant effects on PAH concentrations in house dust were found for gas heating, outdoor PAH concentrations, and residence age. Yet, the optimal regression model only explained 15% of the variation in PAH levels in house dust. As self-reported data and outdoor PAH sources were only marginally predictive of observed PAH levels, we recommend that PAH concentrations be measured directly in dust samples for use in epidemiological studies.

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