Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed during incomplete combustion of organic materials. They are ubiquitous in the environment; therefore, we are in constant contact with them.

The purpose of this article is to compare different, often consumed, types of food due to their PAHs content, as well as to discuss the impact of these compounds on the human body, taking into account the methods for assessing human exposure to PAHs.

Abbreviated description of the state of knowledge:
It is indicated that processing procedures and cooking methods are the main factors of PAHs contamination of food. PAHs can get into food, especially during grilling and frying. The International Agency for Research, on Cancer (IARC) has classified many of these compounds as probably carcinogenic or possibly carcinogenic and one of them, benzo[a]pyrene, as carcinogenic to humans. In recent years, a lot of work has gone how to precisely and accurately quantify the PAHs that are present in food. Biological monitoring is widely used to assess the possible health risk. The effects of short-term human exposure are as well not yet clear. There are studies proving that chronic exposure to PAHs have a mutagenic, carcinogenic and teratogenic effects on the human body.

PAHs are commonly found in food. Heat treatment affects the content of PAHs in food. PAHs negatively affect human health. Knowledge about biological activity of PAHs is important for a healthy society as well as the development of methods to assess exposure to PAHs.

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