Nitrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (nitro-PAHs) in the environment – A review

Bandowe, Benjamin; Meusel, Hannah (2017). Nitrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (nitro-PAHs) in the environment – A review. Science of the total environment, 581-582, pp. 237-257. Elsevier 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.12.115

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Nitrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (nitro-PAHs) are derivatives of PAHs with at least one nitro-functional group (-NO2) on the aromatic ring. The toxic effects of several nitro-PAHs are more pronounced than those of PAHs. Some nitro-PAHs are classified as possible or probable human carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Nitro-PAHs are released into the environment from combustion of carbonaceous materials (e.g. fossil fuels, biomass, waste) and post-emission transformation of PAHs. Most studies on nitro-PAHs are about air (gas-phase and particulate matter), therefore less is known about the occurrence, concentrations, transport and fate of nitro-PAHs in soils, aquatic environment and biota. Studies on partition and exchange of nitro-PAHs between adjacent environmental compartments are also sparse. The concentrations of nitro-PAHs cannot easily be predicted from the intensity of anthropogenic activity or easily related to those of PAHs. This is because anthropogenic source strengths of nitro-PAHs are different from those of PAHs, and also nitro-PAHs have additional sources (formed by photochemical conversion of PAHs). The fate and transport of nitro-PAHs could be considerably different from their related PAHs because of their higher molecular weights and considerably different sorption mechanisms. Hence, specific knowledge on nitro-PAHs is required. Regulations on nitro-PAHs are also lacking. We present an extensive review of published literature on the sources, formation, physico-chemical properties, methods of determination, occurrence, concentration, transport, fate, (eco)toxicological and adverse health effects of nitro-PAHs. We also make suggestions and recommendations about data needs, and future research directions on nitro-PAHs. It is expected that this review will stimulate scientific discussion and provide the basis for further research and regulations on nitro-PAHs.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Paleolimnology
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Bandowe, Benjamin


900 History > 910 Geography & travel








Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

18 May 2017 11:32

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:05

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