The Use of Human Biomonitoring to Assess Occupational Exposure to PAHs in Europe: A Comprehensive Review

Henriqueta Louro, Bruno Costa Gomes, Anne Thoustrup Saber, Anna Laura Iamiceli, Thomas Göen, Kate Jones, Andromachi Katsonouri, Christiana M Neophytou, Ulla Vogel, Célia Ventura, Axel Oberemm, Radu Corneliu Duca, Mariana F Fernandez, Nicolas Olea, Tiina Santonen, Susana Viegas, Maria João Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are among the chemicals with proven impact on workers' health. The use of human biomonitoring (HBM) to assess occupational exposure to PAHs has become more common in recent years, but the data generated need an overall view to make them more usable by regulators and policymakers. This comprehensive review, developed under the Human Biomonitoring for Europe (HBM4EU) Initiative, was based on the literature available from 2008-2022, aiming to present and discuss the information on occupational exposure to PAHs, in order to identify the strengths and limitations of exposure and effect biomarkers and the knowledge needs for regulation in the workplace. The most frequently used exposure biomarker is urinary 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OH-PYR), a metabolite of pyrene. As effect biomarkers, those based on the measurement of oxidative stress (urinary 8-oxo-dG adducts) and genotoxicity (blood DNA strand-breaks) are the most common. Overall, a need to advance new harmonized approaches both in data and sample collection and in the use of appropriate biomarkers in occupational studies to obtain reliable and comparable data on PAH exposure in different industrial sectors, was noted. Moreover, the use of effect biomarkers can assist to identify work environments or activities of high risk, thus enabling preventive risk mitigation and management measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number480
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2022


  • effect biomarker
  • exposure biomarker
  • human biomonitoring
  • occupational exposure
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


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