Red hot danger

Scientists have discovered chemical compounds that are hundreds of times more deadly than their parent carcinogens. These compounds are produced by certain types of chemical reactions, such as those in grilled meat or car engine combustion. The parent compounds involved are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) formed naturally as the result of most types of combustion and it’s well known that many PAHs are carcinogenic. Yet these compounds become even more of a problem when they chemically interact with nitrogen (a basic element in protein) and become nitrated. The nitrated PAHs have 6 to 432 times higher potential to cause mutations, that can lead to cancer, than the parent compounds. High-temperature cooking of meat poses a much bigger health risk than previously thought.

Jariyasopit, N. et al., 2014. Novel Nitro-PAH Formation from Heterogeneous Reactions of PAHs with NO2, NO3/N2O5, and OH Radicals: Prediction, Laboratory Studies, and Mutagenicity. Environmental Science and Technology. 48 (1) 412-419.