Urinary metabolites of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Saudi Arabian schoolchildren in relation to sources of exposure

Mansour A. Alghamdi, Mohammed S. Alam, Christopher Stark, Nuredin Mohammed, Roy M. Harrison*, Magdy Shamy, Mamdouh I. Khoder, Ibrahim I. Shabbaj, Thomas Göen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
394 Downloads (Pure)


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons contain a number of known carcinogenic compounds, and urinary biomarkers have been widely used as a measure of exposure but quantitative relationships with exposure variables have proved elusive. This study aimed to quantify the relationship between exposures to phenanthrene and pyrene from atmospheric and dietary sources with the excretion of 1-hydroxypyrene and hydroxyphenanthrenes in urine as biomarkers of exposure. The study population consisted of 204 male schoolchildren attending three schools in different parts of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia who provided urine samples on each of three consecutive days. Outdoor air measurements of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were made at the schools and the children provided information on diet, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and incense, and various lifestyle factors through a questionnaire. Mixed models with random effects for subjects nested within site were fitted in order to examine the relationship between exposure variables and urinary PAH metabolites. A unit increase (1ngm<sup>-3</sup>) in ambient pyrene (particulate plus gaseous phase) was associated with a 3.5% (95% CI: 1.01%, 5.13%) increase in urinary 1-hydroxypyrene concentration. A unit increase in ambient phenanthrene was associated with a 1.01% (95% CI: 0.03%, 2.02%) increase in total hydroxyphenanthrene concentrations. Consumption of chargrilled food increased the 1-hydroxypyrene and hydroxyphenanthrene concentrations by 24% (95% CI: 11%, 37%) and 17% (95% CI: 8%, 26%) respectively. We did not find evidence of association for environmental tobacco smoke exposure or incense burning. It is concluded that both respiratory exposure and consumption of chargrilled food are considerable sources of PAH exposure in this population as reflected by concentrations of urinary biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-501
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Research
Early online date18 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Atmosphere
  • Diet
  • Exposure
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Biochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Urinary metabolites of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Saudi Arabian schoolchildren in relation to sources of exposure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this