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Mutat Res. 1992 Jul;268(1):131-7.

Sensitivity of different bacterial assays in detecting mutagens in urine of humans exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

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Institute of Occupational Health, University of Padua, Italy.


The urine mutagenicity and excretion of 1-hydroxypyrene (1-OH PYR) in non-smoking psoriatic patients treated topically with coal-tar-based ointments were analysed in order to find the most appropriate procedure for monitoring occupational PAH exposure. The bacterial mutagenicity assays used were the plate incorporation, macro-scale fluctuation and microsuspension tests, all on Salmonella typhimurium strain TA98 in the presence of S9 mix and beta-glucuronidase. The sensitivities of the three assays in detecting mutagenic urinary PAH metabolites were compared. The efficiencies of XAD-2 and C18 resins for concentrating PAH urinary mutagens were evaluated in the microsuspension assay. The plate and fluctuation tests on XAD-2 urine extracts were shown to be insufficiently sensitive to detect low urinary levels of mutagens, being positive on urine samples with very high PAH metabolite content, estimated as more than 30 micrograms/g of creatinine of 1-OH PYR. The microsuspension assay on XAD-2 or, even better, on C18 urine extracts was very sensitive in detecting up to 5 micrograms/g of creatinine of 1-OH PYR. It therefore seems to be applicable to the biological monitoring of most occupational low exposures to coal tar.

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