PAHs are ubiquitous in the environment and can often occur at high concentrations. They are spread around the environment by stormwater runoff, atmospheric transport, petroleum operations (including drilling, refining, transport, combustion, spills, and natural seeps), municipal and industrial wastewater, and combustion of most organic material. In most cases, PAHs are often concentrated in urban environments and their concentrations are increasing primarily due to increases in urbanization and automobile use. One exception is the often high concentrations found in areas of recent forest fires.
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