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Environ Int. 2019 Feb;123:201-208. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.11.068. Epub 2018 Dec 6.

Urinary concentrations of monohydroxylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in adults from the U.S. Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study Wave 1 (2013-2014).

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.
Center for Tobacco Products, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20993, USA.
National Institutes of Health, USA.
Westat, 1600 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850, USA.
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Elm and Carlton Streets, Buffalo, NY 14263, USA.
University of Minnesota, 3 Morrill Hall, 100 Church St. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.
University of Minnesota, Cancer Center Research Building, 2231 6th St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA. Electronic address:



Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are environmental pollutants formed from incomplete combustion of organic matter; some PAHs are carcinogens. Smoking, diet, and other activities contribute to exposure to PAHs. Exposure data to PAHs among combustible tobacco product users (e.g. cigarette smokers) exist; however, among non-combustible tobacco products users (e.g., e-cigarette users), such data are rather limited.


We sought to evaluate exposure to PAHs among participants in Wave 1 (2013-2014) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study based on the type of tobacco product (combustible vs non-combustible), and frequency and intensity of product use.


We quantified seven PAH urinary biomarkers in 11,519 PATH Study participants. From self-reported information, we categorized 8327 participants based on their use of tobacco products as never-tobacco user (never user, n = 1700), exclusive current established combustible products user (combustible products user, n = 5767), and exclusive current established non-combustible products user (non-combustible products user, n = 860). We further classified tobacco users as exclusive cigarette user (cigarette user, n = 3964), exclusive smokeless product user (SLT user, n = 509), and exclusive e-cigarette user (e-cigarette user, n = 280). Last, we categorized frequency of product use (everyday vs some days) and time since use (last hour, within 3 days, over 3 days). We calculated geometric mean (GM) concentrations, and evaluated associations between tobacco product user categories and PAH biomarkers concentrations.


Combustible products users had significantly higher GMs of all biomarkers than non-combustible products users and never users; non-combustible products users had significantly higher GMs than never users for four of seven biomarkers. For all biomarkers examined, cigarette users had the highest GMs compared to other tobacco-product users. Interestingly, GMs of 2-hydroxyfluorene, 3-hydroxyfluorene and ∑2,3-hydroxyphenanthrene were significantly higher in SLT users than in e-cigarette users; 3-hydroxyfluorene and 1-hydroxypyrene were also significantly higher in e-cigarette and SLT users than in never users. Everyday cigarette and SLT users had significantly higher GMs for most biomarkers than some days' users; cigarette and SLT users who used the product in the last hour had significantly higher GMs of most biomarkers than other occasional cigarette or SLT users respectively. By contrast, everyday e-cigarette users' GMs of most biomarkers did not differ significantly from those in some days' e-cigarette users; we did not observe clear trends by time of last use among e-cigarette users.


Users of tobacco products had higher PAH urinary biomarker concentrations compared to never users, and concentrations differed by type and frequency of tobacco product use.

[Available on 2020-02-01]
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