The relationship between external exposure and internal doses of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) has not been established for people living in industrial areas. This study was carried out to estimate the relationship between particle-phase PAH exposure and urinary 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OHP) levels among the adults living near a large petrochemical complex in Mailiao, Taiwan. We measured urinary 1-OHP in 781 residents above 35 years old and PM2.5 PAHs within a 20-km radius downwind from the petrochemical complex. Urinary 1-OHP was analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography, while 16 ambient particle-phase PAHs were measured by gas chromatography mass spectrometry. External exposures to individual PAHs at each study subject's address were estimated by kriging interpolation from air sampling results and regressed against the subjects' urinary 1-OHP levels, adjusting for confounding factors. The study population's urinary 1-OHP levels ranged from 0.001 to 3.005 μmol/mol-creatinine with significantly higher levels for females, grilled food consumers, and residents living close to roads. All 16 particle-phase PAHs were present in the study area with total PAH concentrations ranging from 0.111 to 1.982 ng/m(3). The spatial distribution of 4- and 5-ring PAHs identified high-concentration hotspots close to the complex in Mailiao. The multiple regression models showed that the adults' urinary 1-OHP levels were significantly correlated with 5 out of the 16 PAHs, including benzo[a]anthracene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, fluoranthene, pyrene, and dibenzo[a,h]anthracene; a 0.01 ng/m(3) increase in the concentration of these 5 PAHs at the study subjects' addresses was associated with a 20% elevation in urinary 1-OHP levels (μg/g-creatinine). Emissions from a petrochemical complex can elevate particle-phase PAH concentrations in surrounding areas and increase the urinary 1-OHP levels of adults living nearby.
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