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The Danger Brought By PAHs


Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of 100 chemicals that are found in a wide variety of products. Their biggest presence is found in gasoline and other fuels.

Aromatics in diesel and gasoline are there mainly to increase their octane rating; it determines how well it works. 20 years ago, lead was the main component for raising octane ratings, but because of health risks, they were replaced by PAHs. However, it seems that PAHs bring their own health risks as well.

Here’s a brief guide to what you need to know about PAHs so that you are aware of the risks and what you can do about it:

Health Effects

The effects of PAHs are still a bit unclear, but what is known is that they are a health concern. Studies have revealed that exposure to PAHs can possibly lead to cancer, with several PAH compounds being classed as carcinogens.

Currently, the way PAHs affect a person’s health is determined by several factors. First, there’s the length of exposure, how much PAH they were exposed to, how they were exposed to it, and which one of the hundreds of PAH compounds they were exposed to.

There is also the factor of certain groups being a lot more at risk. If you’re an adult in the peak of health, PAH exposure is not as risky but the elderly, young children and individuals who have health risks can potentially be more affected by PAHs. Even unborn children can be affected, with PAHs penetrating the placenta.

Depending on the levels of exposure, there are different effects. Short-term exposure to high levels of PAHs results in diarrhea, nausea, and eye irritation. Skin irritation and inflammation has also been reported, especially associated with anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene and naphthalene.

The health effects are more pronounced if you are exposed to PAHs for a long time. There are reports of cataracts, damaged to the kidney, liver, and the skin. Cancer of different types has also been reported. This includes skin, lung, and bladder cancer. Asthma and chronic bronchitis have also been noted among those who have been regularly exposed.

What to Do

White smoke isolated on black backgroundCurrently, the main thing to do with PAHs is to reduce exposure to them. This can be difficult since PAHs can be found in the air, mostly from smoke. PAHs can also be found in contaminants in water and food.

You can take several steps you can take to reduce exposure to PAHs. First, try to avoid smoke from wood fires. Next, avoid exposure to automobile exhaust. Another way to reduce exposure is to avoid second-hand smoke. You can reduce the chance of PAHs in your food by cooking slowly over low heat. Finally, you should avoid being exposed to soot and tar.

PAHs are dangerous and can cause health problems in the future. There are already laws in the works to try to reduce PAH content, but it will still take some time before they become fully legislated. People should take care and try to reduce their exposure to PAHs as much as possible.


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