Control and prevention of environmental pollution has become a worldwide issue of concern. Aromatic hydrocarbons including benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene (BTEX) and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are persistent organic pollutants (POPs), released into the environment mainly by exploration activities of petroleum industry. These pollutants are mutagenic, carcinogenic, immunotoxic and teratogenic to lower and higher forms of life i.e. microorganisms to humans. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is carcinogenic in laboratory animals and humans. Aromatic hydrocarbons are highly lipid soluble and thus readily absorbed from environment in gastrointestinal tract of mammals. Treatment and remediation of petroleum refinery waste have been shown either to reduce or to eliminate genotoxicity of these pollutants. Bioremediation by using microorganisms to treat this waste is showing a promising technology as it is safe and cost-effective option among various technologies tested. The main aim of this review is to provide contemporary information on variety of aromatic hydrocarbons present in crude oil (with special focus to mono- and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons), exposure routes and their adverse effects on humans. This review also provides a synthesis of scientific literature on remediation technologies available for aromatic hydrocarbons, knowledge gaps and future research developments in this field. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.