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Placental levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their association with birth weight of infants

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-07-02, 12:56 authored by Priyanka Agarwal, Madhu Anand, Paromita Chakraborty, Laxmi Singh, Jamson Masih, Ajay Taneja

As an alarming group of pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) gather much public health concern not only because of their carcinogenic or co-carcinogenic risk but also by interfering with hormone systems or by causing oxidative damage, henceforth liable to toxic actions on reproduction. Accordingly, the present study was aimed to explore the association between in-utero exposure to PAHs by evaluating their placental levels and infant birth weight among 110 healthy and nonsmoking pregnant women. Placental tissue samples were collected instantly after delivery and were analyzed for the presence of sixteen Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed PAHs with the help of Gas chromatography equipped with flame ionization detector (GC-FID). Chrysene and benzo(k)fluoranthene were the predominant PAHs detected in tissue samples. To assess the source of origin of PAHs in placenta tissue samples, the ratio of low molecular weight PAHs to high molecular weight (∑LMW/∑HMW PAHs) was calculated, showing the predominance of pyrogenic sources of PAHs possibly responsible for the exposure of the studied population. Results of regression analysis demonstrated the inverse although not significant association of naphthalene (Nap), acenaphthylene (Acy), anthracene (Anth), pyrene (Pyr), benzo(b)fluoranthene (BbF), benzo(k)Fluoranthene (BkF), benzo(a)pyrene (BaP), indeno (123 cd pyrene (IcdP), dibenzo(ah)anthracene (DahA) and benzo(ghi)Perylene (BghiP) with birth weight of neonates. Additionally, the regression model lay light upon the significant association of fluoranthene (Fla) (coefficient= −1.41 gram, p < 0.05) to the depletion trend of birth weight after adjusting for potential covariates. These findings suggest the possible role of an environmental contaminants like PAHs on impairment of fetal growth.


This work was partially supported by University Grant Commission Post Doctoral fellowship for Women [201617-PDFWM-2015–17-UTT-36837] and Department of Science and Technology, Societal of Research Fellowship “Disha” [DST/Disha/SoRF-PM/025/2013] for financial support.