The US EPA list primarily takes environmental aspects into account (e.g. industrial emissions) and the selection featured covers PAHs from easily volatile to semi-volatile compounds. The recent EU recommendation targets carcinogenic and genotoxic PAHs in foodstuffs.
As one of the most carcinogenic compounds, benzo(a)pyrene was frequently designated as a guide substance. A conservative approach estimates the carcinogenic potential of the total PAH contamination in foodstuffs to be 10 times the detected concentration of benzo(a)pyrene.
However, the latest findings from foodstuff examinations of EU priority PAHs no longer support the status of benzo(a)pyrene as a guide substance. PAHs have therefore been regulated for certain foodstuffs since 1/9/2012 by using maximum levels of benzo(a)pyrene and the sum of benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), benzo(b)fluoranthene (BbF), benz(a)anthracene (BaA) and chrysene (CHR) as representative for the “EU priority PAHs”. The Scientific Committee on Food (2002) recommends keeping PAH contamination in foodstuffs as low as can reasonably be achieved.
Of the 16 EPA PAHs, routine practice often “only” specifies levels for 12 compounds. Acenaphthene, acenaphthylene, naphthalene and fluorene have low recovery rates due to their volatility. Similarly, some regulations only concentrate on the 6 semi-volatile PAHs benzo(a)pyrene, fluoranthene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, benzo(ghi)perylene and indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene.
|U.S. EPA1||genotoxic (g) / carcinogenic (k)2 ||EU priority PAH3||genotoxic (g) / carcinogenic (k)2|
|Acenaphthene||/ ?||Benz(a)anthracene||g / k|
|Anthracene||-/-||Benzo(b)fluoranthene||g / k|
|Benz(a)anthracene||g / k||Benzo(b)fluoranthene||g / k|
|Benzo(b)fluoranthene||g / k||Benzo(b)fluoranthene||g / k|
|Benzo(k)fluoranthene||g / k||Benzo(ghi)perylene||g|
|Benzo(ghi)perylene||g||Benzo(a)pyrene||g / k|
|Benzo(a)pyrene||g / k||Chrysen||g / k|
|Chrysene||g / k||Cyclopenta(cd)pyrene||g / k|
|Dibenz(a,h)anthracene||g / k||Dibenz(a,h)anthracene||g / k|
|Fluoranthene||Dibenzo(a,e)pyren||g / k|
|Fluorene||/ -||Dibenzo(a,h)pyrene||g / k|
|Indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene||g / k|
|g / k|
|g / k|
|Phenanthrene||?||Indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene||g / k|
|Pyrene||- / ?||5-Methylchrysene||g / k|
1 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): priority list (1982)
2 cit. Scientific Committee on Food (2002)
3 Commission Recommendation 2005/108/EC including benzo(c)fluorene, which was additionally recommended by the experts of the JECFA (Joint FAO/WHO Experts Committee on Food Additives).