Benzo(a)pyrene exposure may lead to bacterial attacks


Darryl B. Hood, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences in the College of Public Health at The Ohio State University, along with researchers from Meharry Medical College, University of Tennessee and Tulane University found that exposure to Benzo(a)Pyrene [B(a)P] may increase susceptibility to obtaining a bacterial infection.

“This information is important in understanding how common air pollutants such as vehicle and industrial combustion processes affect our health,” said Hood. “The data suggest that this exposure, especially during gestation, can cause discordant health outcomes throughout a person’s lifespan.” 

The team used various methods to determine the effect of B(a)P on the number of white blood cells and whether or not it inhibited some of these white blood cells from evolving into macrophages, the body’s first line of defense to fight infections. The results showed that B(a)P does have an inhibiting effect on the cells.

Benzo(a)pyrene is an organic compound that is primarily a by-product of incomplete combustion, such as transportation and smoking tobacco. B(a)P is considered carcinogenic.

Hood’s article can be found in the current issue of World Biomedical Frontiers.



About The Ohio State University College of Public Health

The Ohio State University College of Public Health is a leader in educating students, creating new knowledge through research, and improving the livelihoods and well-being of people in Ohio and beyond.  The College’s divisions include biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health behavior and health promotion, and health services management and policy.   It is ranked 19th among all colleges of public health in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report, and also includes the top 10-ranked MHA degree program.  The College provides leadership and expertise for Ohio and the world through its Center for Health Outcomes, Policy and Evaluation Studies (HOPES), Center for Public Health Practice, and the NCI-funded Center of Excellence in Regulatory Tobacco Science (CERTS).