International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) - Summaries & Evaluations


VOL.: 32 (1983) (p.135)

CAS No.: 56-55-3
Chem. Abstr. Name: Benz(a)anthracene

5. Summary of Data Reported and Evaluation

5.1 Experimental data

Benz[a]anthracene has been shown to be carcinogenic to experimental animals.

The available data on reproductive toxicity and teratogenicity were inadequate for evaluation.

Benz[a]anthracene was mutagenic to Salmonella typhimurium in the presence of an exogenous metabolic system and was mutagenic to Drosophila melanogaster; it was also mutagenic to mammalian cells in vitro in the presence of an exogenous metabolic system. This compound was positive in one study of sister chromatid exchange. It induced unscheduled DNA synthesis in cultured mammalian cells and morphological transformation. In one in-vivo study, it induced sister chromatid exchange in hamsters; reports from in-vivo studies on the induction of chromosomal aberrations were conflicting.

There is sufficient evidence that benz[a]anthracene is active in short-term tests.

5.2 Human data

Benz[a]anthracene is present as a major component of the total content of polynuclear aromatic compounds in the environment. Human exposure to benz[a]anthracene occurs primarily through smoking of tobacco, inhalation of polluted air and by ingestion of food and water contaminated by combustion effluents.

5.3 Evaluation

There is sufficient evidence that benz[a]anthracene is carcinogenic to experimental animals.

For definition of the italicized terms, see Preamble Evaluation.

Previous evaluation: Vol. 3 (1973)

Subsequent evaluation: Suppl. 7 (1987) (p. 58: Group 2A)


Last updated: 17 April 1998

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       Toxicological Abbreviations