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Ecotoxicology. 2011 Nov;20(8):1890-9. doi: 10.1007/s10646-011-0727-9. Epub 2011 Jun 26.

Genotoxicity in Atlantic killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) from a PAH-contaminated Superfund site on the Elizabeth River, Virginia.

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Nicholas School of Environment, Duke University, Box 90328, Durham, NC 27708-0328, USA.


The Atlantic Wood Industries Superfund site (AWI) on the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth, VA is heavily contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from a wood treatment facility. Atlantic killifish, or mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus), at this Superfund site are exposed to very high concentrations of several carcinogens. In this study, we measured PAH concentrations in both fish tissues and sediments. Concurrently, we assessed different aspects of genotoxicity in the killifish exposed in situ. Both sediment and tissue PAH levels were significantly higher in AWI samples, relative to a reference site, but the chemistry profile was different between sediments and tissues. Killifish at AWI exhibited higher levels of DNA damage compared to reference fish, as measured via the flow cytometric method (FCM), and the damage was consistent with sediment PAH concentrations. Covalent binding of benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) metabolites to DNA, as measured via LC-MS/MS adduct detection methods, were also elevated and could be partially responsible for the DNA damage. Using similar LC-MS/MS methods, we found no evidence that oxidative DNA adducts had a role in observed genotoxicity.

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