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  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), also known as poly-aromatic hydrocarbons or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, are potent atmospheric pollutants that consist of fused aromatic rings and do not contain heteroatoms or carry substituents.
  • Naphthalene is the simplest example of a PAH.
  • PAHs occur in oil, coal, and tar deposits, and are produced as byproducts of fuel burning
  • PAHs are also found in cooked foods. Studies have shown that high levels of PAHs are found, for example, in meat cooked at high temperatures such as grilling or barbecuing, and in smoked fish.
  • They are also found in the interstellar medium, in comets, and in meteorites and act as a basis for the earliest forms of life.
  • PAH have two or more single or fused aromatic rings with a pair of carbon atoms shared between rings in their molecules.
  • The term "PAH" refers to compounds consisting of only carbon and hydrogen atoms.
  • The general characteristics of PAHs are high melting and boiling points, low vapor pressure, and very low aqueous solubility, which both tend to decrease with increasing molecular weight, whereas resistance to oxidation and reduction increases.
  • PAHs are highly lipophilic and therefore very soluble in organic solvents.
  • PAHs also manifest various functions such as light sensitivity, heat resistance, conductivity, emittability, corrosion resistance, and physiological action.
  • Sources of PAHs can be both natural and anthropogenic.
  • Natural sources include: forest and grass fires oil seeps volcanoes, chlorophyllous plants, fungi, and bacteria
  • Anthropogenic sources of PAHs include petroleum, electric power generation, refuse incineration, home heating  production of coke, carbon black, coal tar, and asphalt internal combustion engines
  • They are mostly used as intermediaries in pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, photographic products, thermosetting plastics, lubricating materials.

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