Research on the relationship between short-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM) and urinary metabolites of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is sparse in the nonoccupationally exposed populations. A quasi-experimental observation of haze events nested within a randomized crossover trial of alternative 1-week real or sham indoor air filtration was conducted to evaluate the associations of urinary monohydroxy-PAHs (OH-PAHs) with short-term exposure to PM and PM-bound PAHs. The study was conducted among 57 healthy college students in Beijing, China. PM-bound PAHs and urinary OH-PAHs were quantified using gas chromatography coupled with a triple-quadrupole tandem mass spectrometer. Linear mixed-effect models were applied to evaluate the association of urinary OH-PAHs with time-weighted personal PM and PM-bound PAHs, controlling for potentially confounding variables. The results demonstrated that air filtration could markedly reduce external exposure to PM and PM-bound parent, nitrated, and oxygenated PAHs. In the intervention trial, the urinary concentrations of 2-hydroxyfluorene (2-OH-FLU) and 9-hydroxyphenanthrene (9-OH-PHE) were elevated significantly by 16.5% (95% CI, 2.1%, 33.1%) and 37.9% (95% CI, 8.4%, 75.4%), respectively, in association with a doubling increase in personal PM exposure. Urinary 9-OH-PHE was also significantly positively associated with the increase in the sum of PM-bound parent PAHs. Furthermore, the levels of urinary OH-PAHs such as 2-OH-FLU and 9-OH-PHE in the haze events were elevated by 31.1% (95% CI, 8.7%, 53.4%) and 73.5% (95% CI, 16.0%, 131.0%), respectively, in association with a doubling increase in personal PM exposure. The findings indicated that urinary 2-OH-FLU and 9-OH-PHE could serve as potential internal exposure biomarkers for assessing short-term PM exposure in nonoccupational populations.
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