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Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2013 Jul;65(1):78-88. doi: 10.1007/s00244-013-9876-6. Epub 2013 Feb 23.

Re-examination of the genotoxic activity of water taken from the Songhua River in P. R. China.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Health, Public Health College, Harbin Medical University, 194 XueFu Road, NanGang District, Harbin 150081, People's Republic of China.


The Songhua River, in northeast China, has heavy organic contamination due to domestic sewage and industrial wastewater. Thus, it is important to further determine its genotoxic activity, which is a potential hazard for human health. Short-term genotoxic bioassays using Salmonella, the cytokinesis-block micronucleus cytome assay, and mouse liver cell comet assay were employed to further examine the genotoxic activity of diethyl ether extracts of water samples taken from the Songhua River. Ames test results showed that there were still frame-shift mutagens, both direct and indirect, in water samples at doses of 5.0 or 7.0 L water equivalent/plate. The mutagenicity seems to be less when compared with the results from 2002 to 2003. A dose-response relationship was also obtained between DNA damage in mouse liver cells by comet assay and micronuclei formation by CBMN assay. These results indicate that the water samples showed genotoxic activity with a mutagenic potency. 88 and 104 compounds, respectively, were identified in summer and winter water sample extracts by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis. Four priority pollutants listed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and six priority pollutants listed by the Chinese Environment Protection Agency were found in summer or winter water samples, respectively. The results indicate that the diethyl ether extracts of surface water samples taken from the Songhua River still show genotoxic activity (≥3.0 L water). The risks of potential carcinogenicity for human health in the Songhua River should be studied further.

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