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Burning issue of hydrocarbons, impacts on human health

Highlights of Prof. Hayakawa's research who is currently developing methods to identify metabolites of PAHs and NPAHs in urine and blood. Other work include developing the most sensitive method for measuring PAHs and NPAHs, showing that motorcycle engines released more particulate matter than automobiles and more

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their related molecules, nitropolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (NPAHs), are released when fuel -- either fossil fuels or biomass -- is burnt. They are also present following tobacco and fat combustion. PAHs and NPAHs are known to be highly carcinogenic and mutagenic, meaning they can trigger genetic mutations in living organisms. The impact of these particular molecules on human health is now being uncovered, thanks in no small part to the work of Kazuichi Hayakawa at Kanazawa University. The research is featured in the May issue of the Kanazawa University Research Bulletin: http://www.kanazawa-u.ac.jp/research_bulletin/index.html

"In the 1970s, there was no analytical method for monitoring trace levels of atmospheric NPAHs, even though the toxicity of NPAHs was very strong," explains Hayakawa. "My analytical method for determining both PAH and NPAH levels, developed over 20 years ago, remains the most sensitive technique to date."

Between 1997 and 2002, Hayakawa led a study of airborne particulates in seven cities across East Asia2. The research revealed that, due to the higher combustion temperature, diesel engine vehicles in Japan released far more PAHs/NPAHs into the atmosphere than coal heating systems, which were predominant in China.

In 2013, novel research published by Hayakawa and his team illustrates that motorcycle engines release more particulate matter and higher levels of PAHs than automobile engines (3). The same paper shows that motorcycle particulates hold stronger PAH-related mutagenicity than emissions from other vehicles.

Furthermore, in research published in 2003, they uncovered the role of diesel fuel PAHs in disrupting the testosterone and estrogen effects in men and women, respectively, a condition which can lead to prostate cancer and genetic reproductive disorders5.

Kazuichi Hayakawa's research will continue to provide insight into environmental pollution across the globe. It will also inform the development of countermeasures that should help to reduce human health risks.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Organization of Frontier Science and Innovation, Kanazawa University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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