Journal Article

Determination of Benzo[a]pyrene and Other Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) at Trace Levels in Human Tissues

James B. Beach, Edo Pellizzari, Jeffery T. Keever and Linda Ellis

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 24, issue 8, pages 670-677
Published in print November 2000 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online November 2000 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jat/24.8.670
Determination of Benzo[a]pyrene and Other Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) at Trace Levels in Human Tissues

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A sensitive and rugged gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric (GC-MS) method was developed for determining 11 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in 4-g specimens of human lung, breast, and liver tissue. The method quantitation limit (MQL) was 0.01–0.02 ng/g for benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) and six other five- and six-ring PAHs. The MQL was higher for four-ring PAHs because of their presence at trace levels in method blanks. The average MQLs for pyrene and chrysene were 0.05 and 0.03 ng/g, respectively. The method was applied to 200 human tissue specimens (89 lung, 68 breast, and 43 liver) obtained from patients during surgery. Quality-control results demonstrated average recoveries of 80% or better from reagent controls spiked at the 0.2-ng level and average recoveries from tissue fortified at the 0.25-ng/g level of 66–95%. The precision of the method was determined from duplicate analyses of specimens (16–38%RSD) and from duplicate GC-MS analysis of tissue extracts (8–17%RSD). Benzo[a]pyrene was detected at measurable levels in 87% of the lung specimens. This method makes possible the measurement of ambient levels of PAHs in small samples of human tissue such as those obtained by biopsy.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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