Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)

According to the FAO / WHO experts some Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (called PAHs) are genotoxic carcinogens . PAHs can contaminate foods during smoking or drying processes as well as in the result of environmental contamination ( particularly fish and fish products are  vulnerable to contamination). In respect to PAHs, the Commission Regulation ( EC) No 1881/ 2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs, has been replaced by Commission Regulation ( EU) No 835/ 2011 of 19 August 2011.


The most significant change introduces the new marker of PAHs presence and their activity as carcinogens in foodstuffs and establishes maximum levels for the sum of four PAHs (4PAHs):


  • benzo(a)pyrene,
  • benz(a)anthracene ,
  • benzo(b)fluoranthene
  • chrysene


At the same time the regulation maintains  an individual maximum level for benzo (a) pyrene .


From the 1st of September the regulation also tightens requirements for maximum levels of PAHs in  smoked meat and smoked meat products as well as in smoked fish and smoked fish products.
Laboratories Hamilton provide the analysis of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in the agri- and food products with accredited method using high performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection.  The limit of quantification (LOQ) of benzo(a)pyrene is 0.1 mg / kg , while the LOQ for total 4WWA is 1 mg / kg.These changes are based on data published by the The Scientific Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain of the European Food Safety Authority (The EFSA Journal (2008 ) 724 , pp. 1-114 ). Data on smoked fish and smoked meat have shown that it is possible to decrease the highest acceptable levels . Notwithstanding the above, in some cases a need may arise to adapt the current technology of smoking to the new requirements. The smoked sprats and canned smoked sprats , as well as in some types of heat-treated meat and products subjected to heat treatment using the grill and being sold to the final consumer, the specific maximum levels have been established due to the significantly higher content of PAHs than in other smoked fish .


In addition,  our laboratories offer accredited method for the determination of sixteen Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in agri- and food products by gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry:


  • benzo(a)pyrene
  • benzo(a)anthracene
  • benzo(b)fluoranthene
  • benzo(j)fluoranthene
  • benzo(k)fluoranthene
  • benzo(g,h,i)perylene
  • chrysene
  • cyclopentane(c,)pyrene
  • dibenzo(a,h)anthracene
  • dibenzo(a,e)pyrene
  • dibenzo(a,h)pyrene
  • dibenzo(a,i)pyrene
  • dibenzo(a,l)pyrene
  • indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene
  • 5-metylochryzenem
  • benzo(c)fluorine