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Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
What Instructions Should Be Given to Patients to Prevent Overexposure to PAHs?

Course: WB 1519
CE Original Date: July 1, 2009
CE Renewal Date: July 1, 2011
CE Expiration Date: July 1, 2013
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Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this section, you will be able to

  • describe care advice the clinician can provide to patients to prevent overexposure to PAHs.

Introduction

By utilizing effective risk communication techniques, the clinician can promote patient behaviors that may reduce the risk of PAH overexposure and PAH related disease. The clinician can provide advice on

  • self-care, so that patients can minimize risk of PAH overexposure and
  • when to follow-up with a health care provider.

ATSDR has developed patient education care instruction sheets for use in clinical settings; a list of these can be found at:

www.atsdr.cdc.gov/emes/health_professionals/instruction_sheets.html

Self-Care Advice

Self-care advice creates awareness and suggests actionable behaviors that may reduce the risk of PAH overexposure and PAH related disease.

Sample Advice Rationale

Stop smoking and avoid exposure to smoke.

Smoking and exposure to second hand smoke increase the risk of lung cancer.
Cigarette smoke contains PAHs and other carcinogenic substances. Exposure to PAHs by smoking or second hand smoke may increase the risk of overexposure to PAHs and PAH related disease.

Minimize dietary PAH exposures.

The FDA has not published PAH “safe levels” for foodstuffs. However, given that PAHs in food increase the exposure dose and risk of adverse health effects, efforts to minimize dietary contributions would be prudent.

Foods that may contain PAHs include

  • charbroiled, chargrilled, and smoked meats and fish,
  • tea,
  • roasted peanuts,
  • coffee,
  • refined vegetable oil,
  • cereals,
  • spinach,
  • wheat,
  • rye, and
  • lentils.

Minimize hobby, recreational, and home/outdoor PAH exposures.

Awareness of potential PAH exposure through hobbies, recreational, and home/outdoor scenarios and taking action to minimize or avoid exposure may decrease the risk of PAH overexposure.

Wearing gloves when working with cutting oils (as well as other PAH-containing substances encountered in hobbies, recreational, and home/outdoor scenarios) and avoiding outdoor burning practices are some examples of behaviors that would decrease total PAH exposure dose.

Advice On When to Follow Up With a Health Care Provider

Patients should be advised to consult their physician if they develop signs or symptoms to include

  • a new cough or chronic cough with or without hemoptysis,
  • unexplained weight loss,
  • shortness of breath, and
  • other applicable health changes associated with cancer or other serious health condition such as increased fatigue and weakness, recurring respiratory infections, etc.

Key Points

  • The clinician can promote patient behaviors that may reduce the risk of PAH overexposure and PAH related disease by providing advice on
    • self-care, so that patients can minimize risk of PAH overexposure and
    • when to follow-up with a health care provider.
   

Progress Check

21. Clinicians can help their patients reduce the risk of overexposure to PAHs and PAH related disease by

A. Offering information and assistance with smoking cessation.
B. Providing information on PAH related health effects.
C. Providing information on behaviors that can reduce the risk of PAH overexposure and PAH related disease.
D. All of the above.

Answer:

To review relevant content, see Self-Care Advice in this section.

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