Antracen, Antracen



CAS no


Molecular formula


 Anthracene belongs to the group polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and consists of three benzene molecules bound together. It is a colourless to white, solid substance that is insoluble in water.1


Anthracene is used as a raw material for industrial synthesis. Anthracene is found in pyro-technical products, in creosote, in extracts from refining of lubricating oil and in products containing coal tar, such as paints and waterproof surface coatings. It is also present in roofing board, rubber tyres and other rubber products as well as in impregnated wood.

Sources and transportation pathways

Anthracene and other PAHs are unintentionally formed during combustion. It is also present in fossil fuels and enters the environment during incomplete combustion in for example coke ovens and motor vehicles as well as through cigarette smoke and small-scale wood burning.
3 PAHs are also emitted to the environment during forest fires and volcanic activity. One important transportation pathway is by air, where anthracene occurs both bound to particles and in gas-phase. Anthracene is also emitted to water from wastewater treatment plants. Anthracene in water tends to bind to particles and sediment.4 Industrial operations, such as production and processing of metals, paper and wood product processing, and operations within the energy sector are important sources of PAHs.5 Use and spillage of products containing PAHs, for example fuel oil and fossil fuels, can lead to its presence in soil and water. Tyres containing high-aromatic oils (HA oils) contribute to the presence of PAHs in the environments through tyre wear as well as the recycling of tyres for manufacturing of rubber granulate that goes into artificial grass fields.6

on environment and health

Anthracene is a long-lived, toxic substance that can accumulate in the environment.
7 Exposure to anthracene causes irritation of the skin and mucous membranes. Inhalation, digestion and severe skin exposure may cause poisoning.8 Exposure to combustion products such as soot and tar, which contain varying levels of PAH, may cause increased risk of cancer.9

International agreements and regulations

Anthracene is regulated by the UN Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) and the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). The presence of anthracene in products is for example regulated by the EU REACH regulation (EC 1907/2006) and the EU regulation on cosmetic products (EC 1223/2009).
The UN Protocol on PRTRs and the EU E-PRTR regulation regulate how data on anthracene emissions is made available.