In February 2020 researchers from Germany published the results of their study to assess the level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in the urine of children. The researchers stated that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons generally come from the incomplete burning of organic material and can be found, for example, in traffic emissions, smoked or barbecued food, leafy vegetables, and tobacco smoke. Some polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are considered carcinogenic, can change genetic material or can interfere with the reproductive process. A total of 516 children and adolescents, aged 3-17 years, were involved in the study and urine samples were assessed for levels of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites of fluorene, naphthalene, phenanthrene, and pyrene. Results showed that young children had higher levels than adolescents. Increased levels were also found in children from homes using domestic fuel, eg coal, wood, oil or gas for heating, or gas for cooking. Plastic objects were identified as another potential source of exposure. Not only were urinary levels of naphthalene and fluorene elevated in active smokers, they were also found to be elevated to the same level in non-smokers exposed to passive smoking.
Murawski A et al. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in urine of children and adolescents in Germany – human biomonitoring results of the German Environmental Survey 2014-2017 (GerES V). Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2020 Feb 21;226:113491. [Epub ahead of print]