CORVALLIS, Ore. Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered novel compounds produced by certain types of chemical reactions such as those found in vehicle exhaust or grilling meat - that are hundreds of times more mutagenic than their parent compounds which are known carcinogens.
These compounds were not previously known to exist, and raise additional concerns about the health impacts of heavily-polluted urban air or dietary exposure. It's not yet been determined in what level the compounds might be present, and no health standards now exist for them.
The findings were published in December in Environmental Science and Technology, a professional journal.
The compounds were identified in laboratory experiments that mimic the type of conditions which might be found from the combustion and exhaust in cars and trucks, or the grilling of meat over a flame.
"Some of the compounds that we've discovered are far more mutagenic than we previously understood, and may exist in the environment as a result of heavy air pollution from vehicles or some types of food preparation," said Staci Simonich, a professor of chemistry and toxicology in the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences.
"We don't know at this point what levels may be present, and will explore that in continued research," she said.
The parent compounds involved in this research are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, formed naturally as the result of almost any type of combustion, from a wood stove to an automobile engine, cigarette or a coal-fired power plant. Many PAHs, such as benzopyrene, are known to be carcinogenic, believed to be more of a health concern that has been appreciated in the past, and are the subject of extensive research at OSU and elsewhere around the world.
The PAHs can become even more of a problem when they chemically interact with nitrogen to become "nitrated," or NPAHs, scientists say. The newly-disc
|Contact: Staci Simonich|
Oregon State University