Approaches to carcinogenic risk assessment for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: a UK perspective

Maria M Pufulete, J Battershill, A Boobis, R Fielder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reviews the approaches to carcinogenic risk assessment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in air pollution with emphasis on high potency PAHs such as dibenzo[a,l]pyrene (DB[a,l]P). The potency of DB[a,l]P may be 100-fold greater than benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P); thus the B[a]P surrogate approach currently used to monitor for compliance with UK air pollution standards may not be appropriate. It is suggested that an approach based on potency equivalency factors (PEFs) could be developed to include highly potent PAHs provided an appropriate reference data set for relevant PAHs using a route acceptable for inhalation risk assessment is selected. Available data suggest that intratracheal administration of low doses of PAHs to rats is likely to simulate the kinetics of inhalation exposure to PAHs in a feasible manner. The use of a measure of total DNA adducts as an endpoint, which correlates well with lung tumourigenicity, would provide surrogate data for setting PEFs without the need for long-term bioassays in rodents. Further, dose-response studies using intratracheal administration of a range of PAHs singly and in combination to assess additivity are required to develop a PEF system for inhalation PEFs derived from DNA adduct measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-66
Number of pages13
JournalRegulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004


  • Air Pollutants
  • Animals
  • Carcinogens
  • DNA Adducts
  • Great Britain
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms
  • Polycyclic Hydrocarbons, Aromatic
  • Rats
  • Risk Assessment

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