DescriptionCircumstances of exposureTumour sites (or types)
for which there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are substances formed during incomplete combustion of organic material.
The most widely investigated PAH is benzo[a]pyrene.
Major sources of PAHs in ambient air include:
  • outdoor sources like motor vehicle exhaust (especially from diesel engines), industrial emissions, and forest fires;
  • indoor sources such as residential and commercial heating and cooking with wood, coal, or other biomass, and tobacco smoke.

Sources of PAHs in the diet include:

  • barbecued/grilled/broiled and smoke-cured meats;
  • roasted, baked, and fried foods (high-temperature processing).

PAHs are also present in a few pharmaceutical products based on coal tar that are applied to the skin.

  • Lung
  • Skin