Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) as Toxic Air Contaminants : A Fluorescence Study

Author(s): Shuchi Gupta and Seema Acharya

Polyaromatic hydrocarbons are ubiquitous pollutants formed by incomplete combustion of organic material using in part from natural combustion, such as forest fire and volcanic eruption for most part. However; human activities such as industrial production, smoking, transportation and waste incineration generates significant levels of PAHs. PAHs forms important carcinogenic constituents of the cigarette smoke and vehicular exhaust. Heavy transportation using hydrocarbon fuels leads to environmental pollution resulting in health hazards and ecological imbalances. One key observation was that the mixture of these substances that had carcinogenic activities was fluorescent and had similar fluorescence spectrum to polycyclic compounds by spectroscopy. Work has been done on the vehicular exhaust and tobacco smoke and a number of PAHs were purified and their fluorescence spectra were examined. A simple and precise analytical method for the estimation of alcohol contents in blended petrol has also been developed. As an immediate measure, to meet the present day automobile fuel scarcity and exhaust pollution problems, ethanol can be blended into existing gasoline. The use of alternative fuel can considerably reduce level of pollutants in air.

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