Analysis of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Outline of Analysis of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are the generic term for aromatic hydrocarbons with more than one benzene ring. They exist in crude oil, and are generated as by-products at burning. Some PAHs are considered to have the carcinogenicity, the genetic variability, and the endocrine-disrupting effect. In the cities with many automobiles, and the factory areas with a large amount of waste gas, the increase of the diseases such as lung cancer, asthma, etc. caused by a large amount of smoke emission containing PAHs is a serious social issue.

PAHs are not regulated in Japan, but are indicated by the Ministry of the Environment as the “items requiring research” for water environment samples (water quality, bottom sediments, and aquatic organisms), and the research has been conducted according to the “Research Manual for Items Requiring Research, etc.” (March 2004). For atmospheric environment samples, the composition of the grain size of 2.5 μm (hereinafter called “PM2.5”) among the particulate matters floating in atmosphere will be measured according to the “Revised Version of Provisional Manual for Measurement of Microparticulate Matters (PM2.5) in Atmosphere” (July 2007).

There are 234 kinds of substances which might be “harmful air pollutants” (substances which might affect the health by long-time intake even at a low concentration), and among them, there is Benzo[a]pyrene which is PAH as a substance for which measures should be taken by priority (substance requiring measures by priority). The analysis of PAHs in atmosphere will be conducted according to the Manual for Measurement of Harmful Air Pollutants.

- The list of PAHs of the GS mark certification has been changed from 16 substances to 18 substances. (July 2012)
- PAHs have been added in the GS mark certification. (April 2008)
 The GS mark certification means the safety certification for toys, bicycles, helmets, furniture, household electric appliances, mechanical products, etc. according to the laws prescribed in the German Equipment and Product Safety Act.
  In April 2008, the evaluation of PAHs was added in the GS mark certification, and it was decided that the evaluation must be conducted for PAHs at the product certification. The targets are the objects which might be put in our mouth or come in contact with our body, and the test for PAHs may be judged unnecessary in some cases.

Table 1 Substances subject to GS mark certification PAH evaluation (German GPSG Act)

Compound Regulation value Analysis method
Naphthalene Not detected Solvent extraction → GC-MS
Or high-resolution GC-MS
Benzo[j]fluoranthene *
Benzo[e]pyrene *
The substances marked with * are added as PAHs18.

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