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J Occup Med Toxicol. 2015 Aug 1;10:27. doi: 10.1186/s12995-015-0069-2. eCollection 2015.

Comet assay based DNA evaluation of fuel filling stations and automobile workshops workers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan.

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Department of Zoology, University of Peshawar, Peshawar, Pakistan.
Institute of Chemical Sciences, University of Peshawar, Peshawar, Pakistan.
Contributed equally



Fuel filling stations workers and automobile workshops mechanics are consistently exposed to gasoline hydrocarbons during their occupation, this may cause DNA damage. Objective of this study was to evaluate the level of DNA damage in subjects occupationally exposed to these hydrocarbons.


Comet assay was performed on blood lymphocytes of exposed subjects to assess the probable DNA damage. 100 cells per individual were scored and graded by comet tail length. Exposed group consisted of 98 subjects (age 25.4 ± 7.2 years), of which 68 were CNG/Petrol filling men and 30 were automobile workshop workers, selected randomly from different service stations and automobile workshops of populated and adjacent cities of Peshawar, Mardan and Nowshera of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, while control group included 92 subjects (age 26.7 ± 11.8 years) were also from the same areas.


Significantly high level of DNA damage was found in the subjects exposed to gasoline hydrocarbons as compared to control subjects (173.2 ± 50.1 and 61.0 ± 25.0, P = 0.001, respectively). Period of exposure and use of tobacco also showed considerable effects (P < 0.05) on DNA damage, while effect of age and daily working hours on total comet score (TCS) were non-significant (P > 0.05).


The results of our study concluded that petroleum hydrocarbons have the potential to cause DNA damage in the exposed subjects. The study also suggested that protective strategies should be implemented by the concerned authorities to minimize exposure to fuel hydrocarbons.


Blood lymphocytes; Comet assay; DNA damage; Gasoline hydrocarbons

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