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Chem Res Toxicol. 2012 Jul 16;25(7):1452-61. doi: 10.1021/tx300108e. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

Excretion profiles and half-lives of ten urinary polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites after dietary exposure.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.


Human exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be assessed by biomonitoring of their urinary monohydroxylated metabolites (OH-PAHs). Limited information exists on the human pharmacokinetics of OH-PAHs. This study aimed to investigate the excretion half-life of 1-hydroxypyrene (1-PYR), the most used biomarker for PAH exposure, and 9 other OH-PAHs following a dietary exposure in 9 nonsmoking volunteers with no occupational exposure to PAHs. Each person avoided food with known high PAH-content during the study period, except for a high PAH-containing lunch (barbecued chicken) on the first day. Individual urine samples (n = 217) were collected from 15 h before to 60 h following the dietary exposure. Levels of all OH-PAHs in all subjects increased rapidly by 9-141-fold after the exposure, followed by a decrease consistent with first-order kinetics, and returned to background levels 24-48 h after the exposure. The average time to reach maximal concentration ranged from 3.1 h (1-naphthol) to 5.5 h (1-PYR). Creatinine-adjusted urine concentrations for each metabolite were analyzed using a nonlinear mixed effects model including a term to estimate background exposure. The background-adjusted half-life estimate was 3.9 h for 1-PYR and ranged 2.5-6.1 h for the other 9 OH-PAHs, which in general, were shorter than those previously reported. The maximum concentrations after barbecued chicken consumption were comparable to the levels found in reported occupational settings with known high PAH exposures. It is essential to consider the relatively short half-life, the timing of samples relative to exposures, and the effect of diet when conducting PAH exposure biomonitoring studies.

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