Hidrocarbonos aromáticos policíclicos



Hydrocarbonos aromáticos policíclicos (HAPs o PAHs por sus siglas en inglés) son Compuestos químicos que consisten de anillos aromaticos fusionados que no contienen heteroátomos ni cargan sustituyentes[1] . HAPs occur in oil, coal, and tar deposits, and are produced as byproducts of fuel burning (whether fossil fuel or biomass). As a pollutant, they are of concern because some compounds have been identified as carcinogenic, mutagenic ,and teratogenic.

They are also found in the interstellar medium, in comets, and in meteorites and are a candidate molecule to act as a basis for the earliest forms of life. In graphene the PAH motif is extended to large 2D sheets.

Tabla de contenidos

Incidencia y contaminación

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are lipophilic, meaning they mix more easily with oil than water. The larger compounds are less water-soluble and less volatile (prone to evaporate). Because of these properties, PAHs in the environment are found primarily in soil, sediment and oily substances, as opposed to in water or air. However, they are also a component of concern in particulate matter suspended in air.

Natural crude oil and coal deposits contain significant amounts of PAHs, arising from chemical conversion of natural product molecules, such as steroids, to aromatic hydrocarbons. They are also found in processed fossil fuels, tar and various edible oils.Plantilla:Facts

PAHs are one of the most widespread organic pollutants. In addition to their presence in fossil fuels (and thus fuel spills) they are also formed by incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels such as wood, coal, diesel, fat, tobacco, or incense.[1] Different types of combustion yield different distributions of PAHs in both relative amounts of individual PAHs and in which isomers are produced. Thus coal burning produces a different mixture than motor-fuel combustion or a forest fire, making the compounds potentially useful as markers.

Hydrocarbon emissions from fossil fuel-burning engines are regulated in developed countries.[2]

Salúd humana

PAHs toxicity is very structurally dependent, with isomers (PAHs with the same formula and number of rings) varying from being nontoxic to being extremely toxic. Thus, highly carcinogenic PAHs may be small or large. One PAH compound, benzo[a]pyrene, is notable for being the first chemical carcinogen to be discovered (and is one of many carcinogens found in cigarette smoke). The EPA has classified seven PAH compounds as probable human carcinogens: benz[a]anthracene, benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, chrysene, dibenz[a,h]anthracene, and indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene.

PAHs known for their carcinógeno, mutagenic and teratogenic properties are benz[a]anthracene and chrysene , benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[j]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene,benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[ghi]perylene, coronene, dibenz[a,h]anthracene (C20H14), indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene (C22H12) and ovalene [3] .


The simplest PAHs, as defined by the International Union on Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) {G.P Moss, IUPAC nomenclature for fused-ring systems), are phenanthrene and anthracene. Smaller molecules, such as benzene and naphthalene, are not formally PAHs, although they are chemically related they are called one-ring (or mono) and two-ring (di) aromatics.

PAHs may contain four-, five-, six- or seven-member rings, but those with five or six are most common. PAHs composed only of six-membered rings are called alternant PAHs. Certain alternant PAHs are called "benzenoid" PAHs. The name comes from benzene, an aromatic hydrocarbon with a single, six-membered ring. These can be benzene rings interconnected with each other by single carbon-carbon bonds and with no rings remaining that do not contain a complete benzene ring.

The set of alternant PAHs is closely related to a set of mathematical entities called polyhexes, which are planar figures composed by conjoining regular hexagons of identical size.

PAHs containing up to six fused aromatic rings are often known as "small" PAHs and those containing more than six aromatic rings are called "large" PAHs. Due to the availability of samples of the various small PAHs, the bulk of research on PAHs has been of those of up to six rings. The biological activity and occurrence of the large PAHs does appear to be a continuation of the small PAHs. They are found as combustion products, but at lower levels than the small PAHs due to the kinetic limitation of their production through addition of successive rings. Additionally, with many more isomers possible for larger PAHs, the occurrence of specific structures is much smaller.

PAHs posee very characteristic UV absorbance spectra. These often possess many absorbance bands and are unique for each ring structure. Thus, for a set of isomers, each isomer has a different UV absorbance spectrum than the others. This is particularly useful in the identification of PAHs. Most PAHs are also fluorescent, emitting characteristic wavelengths of light when they are excited (when the molecules absorb light). The extended pi-electron electronic structures of PAHs lead to these spectra, as well as to certain large PAHs also exhibiting semi-conducting and other behaviors.

Naphthalene (C10H8 constituent of mothballs), consisting of two coplanar six-membered rings sharing an edge, is another aromatic hydrocarbon. By formal convention, it is not a true PAH, though is referred to as a bicyclic aromatic hydrocarbon.

Aqueous solubility decreases approximately one order of magnitude for each additional ring.

compuestos HAP

Chemical compound Chemical compound
Anthracene Benzo[a]pyrene
Chrysene Coronene
Corannulene Naphthacene
Naphthalene Pentacene
Phenanthrene Pyrene
Triphenylene Ovalene


Although PAHs clearly are aromatic compounds, the degree of aromaticity can be different for each ring segment. According to Clar's rule (formulated by Eric Clar in 1964) for PAH's the resonance structure with the most disjoint aromatic п-sextets—i.e. benzene-like moieties—is the most important for the characterization of the properties [4] .

For example in fenantreno the Clar structure 1A has two sextets at the extremities while resonance structure 1B has just one central sextet. Therefore in this molecule the outer rings are firmly aromatic while its central ring is less aromatic and therefore more reactive. In contrast, in anthracene 2 the number of sextets is just one and aromaticity spreads out. This difference in number of sextets is reflected the UV absorbance spectra of these two isomers. Phenanthrene has a highest wavelength absorbance around 290 nm, while anthracene has highest wavelength bands around 380 nm. Three Clar structures with two sextets are present in chrysene (4) and by superposition the aromaticity in the outer ring is larger than in the inner rings.

Orígenes de la vida

Artículo principal: PAH world hypothesis

En enero de 2004 (en el 203º Encuentro de la American Astronomical Society [5] ), it was reported [6] that a team led by A. Witt of the University of Toledo, Ohio studied ultraviolet light emitted by the Red Rectangle nebula and found the spectral signatures of antraceno y pireno. (No other such complex molecules had ever before been found in space.) This discovery was considered confirmation of a hypothesis that as nebulae of the same type as the Red Rectangle approach the ends of their lives, convection currents cause carbon and hydrogen in the nebulae's core to get caught in stellar winds, and radiate outward. As they cool, the atoms supposedly bond to each other in various ways and eventually form particles of a million or more atoms. Witt and his team inferred (as cited in Battersby, 2004) that since they discovered PAHs—which may have been vital in the formation of early life on Earth—in a nebula, by necessity they must originate in nebulae.


  1. Fetzer, J. C. (2000). The Chemistry and Analysis of the Large Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. New York: Wiley.
  2. For example, EPA regulations for small engines are at 40 CFR §90.103; see emission standard for more information.
  3. Luch, A. (2005). The Carcinogenic Effects of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. London: Imperial College Press, ISBN 1-86094-417-5
  4. Assessment of Clar's aromatic -sextet rule by means of PDI, NICS and HOMA indicators of local aromaticity Guillem Portella , Jordi Poater, Miquel Solà J. Phys. Org. Chem. 2005; 18: 785–791 DOI 10.1002/poc.938
  5. American Astronomical Society. (n.d.). Meeting program contents. Retrieved January 11 2004 from http://www.aas.org/meetings/aas203/
  6. Battersby, S. (2004). Space molecules point to organic origins. 11 de enero 2004 de http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994552

Enlaces externos

  • Fused Ring and Bridged Fused Ring Nomenclature
  • Database of PAH structures
  • National Pollutant Inventory: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Fact Sheet
  • Understanding Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons NASA Spitzer Space Telescope
  • Astrobiology magazine Aromatic World An interview with Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund on PAH origin of life. Accessed June 2006
Este articulo se basa en el articulo Hidrocarbonos_aromáticos_policíclicos publicado en la enciclopedia libre de Wikipedia. El contenido está disponible bajo los términos de la Licencia de GNU Free Documentation License. Véase también en Wikipedia para obtener una lista de autores.
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