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Aromatic Hydrocarbons: Carcinogenicity And Toxicity

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Aromatic Hydrocarbons: Carcinogenicity And Toxicity - Lesson Summary

Aromatic hydrocarbons containing two or more fused rings are called polycyclic aromatic compounds or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Coal tar is the main source of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons possess either a linear or an angular structure.

Ex: Hydrocarbon with a linear structure is naphthalene or anthracene, phenanthrene and pyrene. 



These hydrocarbons are carcinogenic as they cause cancer. 
Ex: 1, 2 -benzpyrene; 9, 10-dimethyl-1, 2-benzanthracene.
 



It is found that the number and position of certain groups such as methyl, hydroxide, cyanide and methoxy in these compounds give rise to carcinogenic tendencies.


 
These polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons enter the environment due to the incomplete combustion of coal, petroleum, tobacco, etc. On entering the human body, these compounds undergo various biochemical reactions and damage DNA. This causes a sudden change in the DNA structure, leading to cancer.

The elimination of carcinogens from the environment can reduce the incidence of cancer to a great extent. This can be achieved by:
  • Recycle the products of the combustion of coal and petroleum products.
  • Control the use of tobacco or by using filters to reduce the inhalation of the incomplete combustion of tobacco.

Checking the pollution caused by automobiles and industries which can be done by minimizing the use of private vehicles and recycling industrial waste.

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