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Environ Mol Mutagen. 2016 Aug;57(7):535-45. doi: 10.1002/em.22032. Epub 2016 Jul 30.

Oral exposure to commercially available coal tar-based pavement sealcoat induces murine genetic damage and mutations.

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Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Mechanistic Studies Division, Environmental Health Science and Research Bureau, Environmental and Radiation Health Sciences Directorate, HECSB, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Analytical and Environmental Sciences Division, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.


Coal tar (CT) is a thick black liquid produced as a by-product of coal carbonization to produce coke or manufactured gas. It is comprised a complex mixture of polycyclic aromatic compounds, including a wide range of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), many of which are genotoxic and carcinogenic. CT is used in some pavement sealants (also known as sealcoat), which are applied to pavement in order to seal and beautify the surface. Human exposure is known to occur not only during application, but also as a result of the weathering process, as elevated levels of PAHs have been found in settled house dust in residences adjacent to CT-sealed surfaces. In this study we examined the genotoxicity of an extract of a commercially available CT-based sealcoat in the transgenic Muta™Mouse model. Mice were orally exposed to 3 doses of sealcoat extract daily for 28 days. We evaluated genotoxicity by examining: (1) stable DNA adducts and (2) lacZ mutations in bone marrow, liver, lung, small intestine, and glandular stomach, as well as (3) micronucleated red blood cells. Significant increases were seen for each endpoint and in all tissues. The potency of the response differed across tissues, with the highest frequency of adducts occurring in liver and lung, and the highest frequency of mutations occurring in small intestine. The results of this study are the first demonstration of mammalian genotoxicity following exposure to CT-containing pavement sealcoat. This work provides in vivo evidence to support the contention that there may be adverse health effects in mammals, and potentially in humans, from exposure to coal tar. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 57:535-545, 2016.


BaP; PAH; coal tar; driveway sealant; genotoxicity; sealcoat

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