3: 4-Benzpyrene from Coal Tar


THE extraction of the carcinogenic hydrocarbon 3:4-benzpyrene from coal tar, whether by the original method of Cook, Hewett and Hieger1 (using repeated fractional distillation, extraction with solvents, formation of picrates, and crystallizations) or by Winterstein's modification2 (involving chromatography), is generally considered too laborious, and the yields obtained too low, to serve as a practical measure for routine supplies. Hence the use of synthetic 3:4-benzpyrene for most experimental needs. When it was found3, however, by a spectrographic method of estimation, that tar might contain as much as 1·5 per cent of benzpyrene, a re-investigation of the methods of isolating the hydrocarbon from tar seemed desirable.


  1. 1

    Cook, J. W., Hewett, C. L., and Hieger, I., J. Chem, Soc., 395 (1933).

  2. 2

    Winterstein, A., Festschrift Emil Bareli, Basel (1936), quoted by Cook, J. W., and Kennaway, E. L., Amer. J. Cancer, 33, 50 (1938).

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  3. 3

    Berenblum, I., and Schoental, R., Brit. J. Exp. Path., 24, 232 (1943).

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BERENBLUM, I. 3: 4-Benzpyrene from Coal Tar. Nature 156, 601 (1945). https://doi.org/10.1038/156601a0

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