Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons exposure and lung function decline among coke-oven workers: A four-year follow-up study

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This study aimed to investigate quantitative relationships of urinary PAH metabolites with lung function declines among coke-oven workers.


We performed a prospective investigation involving 1243 workers with follow-up periods from 2010 to 2014. Their lung function measurements, including forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), the percentage of predicted FVC (FVC%) and FEV1 (FEV1%), FEV1/FVC ratio, and forced expiratory flow between 25% and 75% of vital capacity (FEF25–75), were detected in both baseline (2010) and follow-up study (2014). We also detected the urinary concentrations of 12 PAH metabolites in the baseline study. The relationships between the baseline urinary PAH metabolites and 4-year lung function declines were analyzed by multivariate linear regressions, with adjustment for potential confounders.


We found that the baseline concentrations of urinary 1-hydroxynaphthalene (1-OHNa), 2-OHNa, 2-hydroxyfluorene (2-OHFlu), 9-OHFlu, 1-hydroxyphenanthrene (1-OHPh), 2-OHPh, and ΣOH-PAHs were significantly associated with accelerated decline in FEV1/FVC [all β>0 and false discovery rate (FDR) P<0.05]. Additionally, the baseline levels of urinary 1-OHNa, 1-OHPh, 2-OHPh, 9-OHPh, 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OHP), and ΣOH-PAHs were associated with significantly deeper decline in FEF25–75 (all β>0 and FDR P<0.10). When using backward selection to adjustment for 10 urinary PAH metabolites, the most significant determiner for FEV1/FVC decline was 1-OHNa among nonsmokers and 9-OHFlu among smokers, and the significant determiner for FEF25–75 decline was 9-OHPh among nonsmokers and 1-OHP among smokers.


This longitudinal study revealed that higher baseline exposure levels of PAHs could lead to greater decline in lung function over a 4-year follow-up.

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