Assessment of work-related exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Italy

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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are generally present in the workplace environment as complex mixtures and often difficult to identify a priori.


The aim of this study is to evaluate the level and coverage of occupational exposure to PAHs in Italy.


Data were collected from exposure registries of companies with mandatory reporting to the National Workers' Compensation Authority. Statistical analyses were carried out on the retrieved information and the number of workers potentially exposed was estimated for some industrial sectors.


Overall 12,849 measurements of exposure levels to individual PAHs were selected from the database of registries in the period 1996–2010. Most exposures occurred in the manufacture of chemicals (N = 5,383, 51%), and the occupational group most frequently measured was chemical-processing-plant operator (N = 3,930, 31%). Measurements were associated to various PAHs, including benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[a]anthracene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, dibenz[a,h]anthracene, and benzo[j]fluoranthene. Overall, 39,230 workers were estimated as potentially at risk of exposure to PAHs in the selected industrial sectors.


This study summarized data recorded in the Italian occupational exposure database and identified specific exposure patterns to PAHs. The systematic recording of occupational exposures is a source of data that allows the recognition, control, and prevention of high-risk situations for workers' health. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:897–906, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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