Assessment of benzo(a)pyrene-equivalent carcinogenicity and mutagenicity of residential indoor versus outdoor polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons exposing young children in New York City

The application of benzo(a)pyrene (BaP)-toxic equivalent factor to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) concentrations can provide a more accurate risk assessment from environmental exposure to PAH. We hypothesized that BaP-equivalent toxicity determined following residential air monitoring among young urban children may vary by season. Residential indoor and outdoor air levels of PAH measured over two-weeks in a cohort of 5–6 year old children (n = 260) in New York City were normalized to the cancer and mutagen potency equivalent factor of BaP (BaP = 1). Data are presented as carcinogenic equivalents (BaP-TEQ) and mutagenic equivalents (BaP-MEQ) for the sum of 8 PAH (Σ8PAH; MW ≥ 228) and individual PAH and compared across heating versus nonheating seasons. Results show that heating compared to nonheating season was associated significantly with higher (BaP-TEQ)Σ8PAH and (BaP-MEQ)Σ8PAH both indoors and outdoors (p < 0.001). Outdoor (BaP-TEQ)Σ8PAH and (BaP-MEQ)Σ8PAH were significantly higher than the corresponding indoor measures during the heating season (p < 0.01). These findings suggest that at levels encountered in New York City air, especially during the heating season, residential exposure to PAH may pose an increased risk of cancer and mutation.

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