Useful Resources and other GEMs for PAHs

Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons(PAHs) are often detected in the UK as part of a suite of soil analysis used when assessing land quality.  There has been much debate over the risks posed by PAHs in soil and how these should be assessed with tensions between Health Protection Agency and Defra on what, in terms of excess cancer risk, represents a “low level of concern”. Here are just some of the resources that may assist in understanding and determining whether the PAH sources of contamination in the soil could be significant:

Key documents

  • Normal background concentrations of  benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) in England are quoted in the ‘Technical Guidance Sheet (TGS) on normal levels of contaminants in English soils: benzo[a]pyrene. Technical Guidance Sheet TGS04‘  as for Urban Domain and 0.5mg/kg for Principal Domain
  • Health Protection Agency(HPA)2010: Contaminated Land Information Sheet Risk Assessment Approaches for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons(PAHs) – you will need to google this for a link to be taken direct to a  PDF via JISCMail  * Primary document detailing when a surrogate marker(SM) approach may be used for BaP but not published on gov uk website* 
  •  Summary of HPA’s of the COT 2013 evaluation of ‘The development of new screening levels for contaminants in soil’ can be found from Page 54   * Commentary on the findings regarding research project on Interpretation of Margins of Exposure for Genotoxic Carcinogens* 
  • Public Health for England: Benzo(a)pyrene or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs): health effects, incident management and toxicology document
  • BaP Category 4 Screening Level (C4SL) calculated and presented in DEFRA Report SP1010  Appendix E – BaP [NB. the published errata listed in separate document]
  • Screening values for 16 PAHs for six different land uses for three different soil organic matter concentrations, part of a suite of published theshold values for 82 subtances known as “The LQM/CIEH S4ULs for Human Health Risk Assssment” can be purchased on line from Land Quality Management Ltd here.  *S4ULs have retained the principle of ‘minimal risk’ unlike C4SLs* 


  • Excel Spreadsheet for profiling of PAHs to determine whether the PAHs results are sufficiently similar to  Coal Tar to allow the surrogate marker approach for assessment  as set out by the HPA in 2010.  for information and how to purchase go to:
  • Think you might have more than one source of PAHs, LQM’sPAH Double Ratio Tool may be able to help you out. For more information go to:

Background Information