Determination of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in urban street dust: implications for human health

Damien Lorenzi, Jane Entwistle, Mark Cave, John Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Citations (Scopus)


The determination of sixteen polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in urban street dust has been done. Samples were collected from 12 sampling locations in a city centre location (Newcastle upon Tyne, north east England) and extracted using in situ pressurised fluid extraction followed by gas chromatography mass spectrometry. From the results it was possible to identify three groups, with respect to PAH concentration, with PAH contents ranging between 0.6–2.3 mg kg-1, 15.6–22.5 mg kg-1 and 36.1–46.0 mg kg-1. The total PAH content of samples from these sampling sites has been compared to 22 urban locations around the world; comparable levels were found in these samples compared to the other cities around the world. The potential source of PAHs has been investigated by investigating the proportion of pyrogenic and petrogenic material in urban street dust using specific individual PAH ratios. The results indicate that the PAH content of urban street dust from the chosen sites are more likely to be due to pyrogenic sources i.e. vehicle exhaust emissions. The particle size fractions (<63 lm; 63–125 lm; 125–250 lm; 250– 500 lm; 500–1000 lm; and 1000–2000 lm) of individual PAHs in three selected sampling sites was investigated. In two of the selected sites the PAH content was independent of particle size whereas in sampling site 10 elevated PAH levels are noted in the <63 lm size fraction. Sampling site 10 is located at the junction of three road tributaries which are used as major access points to the east of the city centre. Finally, the potential health risk for unintentional consumption of PAHs was assessed in terms of a mean daily intake (based on an ingestion rate of 100 mg d-1). It was found that all 4–6 membered ring PAHs had concentrations in excess of the mean daily intake thereby reflecting a potential health risk, particularly in the smallest size particle fractions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)970-977
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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