Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) represent a large group of naturally occurring hydrocarbons, which are generated as by-products during combustion processes. The pure compounds are white or yellowish crystalline solids. They are insoluble in water but dissolve readily in fats and oils.
Common name: PAH
PAHs are not typically manufactured deliberately other than at a laboratory scale for use in research and analysis, but are present incidentally in a wide range of products, such as diesel, creosote, coal tar products, pitch and tar used for roofing and road construction.
Releases to the environment
The majority of PAHs are released by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and wood. Sources in industry are the manufacture of aluminium and coke ovens. Emissions may also occur via evaporation or leaching from PAH containing materials.
Impacts on the environment and human health
Certain PAHs are known to cause cancer, birth defects and mutations on prolonged exposure to human and animal tissue. The ability of some PAHs to travel long distances through the atmosphere, and pose potential concerns to humans and wildlife at locations remote from the emission source led to categorisation of PAHs as Persistent Organic Pollutants, the so-called POPs.
PAHs are listed as priority hazardous substances in the Water Framework Directive and in the UNECE Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants – the POP Protocol.
Furthermore PAH is on the EU-Commissions EPER list and listed in the PRTR Protocol under the Århus Convention.
CAS NO: Not applicable for a group of substances as PAHs