Environmental Terminology and Discovery Service (ETDS)


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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of compounds formed during the incomplete combustion of coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage or other organic substances. In most cases PAHs occur as a mixture of several compounds, not as a single chemical. Several PAHs are produced commercially to be used in the industrial organic synthesis. Once released into the aquatic environment, degradation by micro-organisms is often slow, leading to their accumulation in exposed sediments, soils, aquatic and terrestrial plants, fish and invertebrates. In terms of human health, prolonged exposure to PAHs can have a deleterious effect, and individuals exposed to mixtures of PAHs, [definition source: UNEP-Balkans.]

Terminology source: http://glossary.eea.europa.eu

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