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Sci Total Environ. 2004 Oct 15;333(1-3):127-36.

Comet and micronucleus assays in zebra mussel cells for genotoxicity assessment of surface drinking water treated with three different disinfectants.

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Unità di Cancerogenesi Ambientale, Istituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro Largo R. Benzi 10, 16132 Genova, Italy.


The aim of this research was to study the influence of classic (sodium hypochlorite and chlorine dioxide) and alternative (peracetic acid [PAA]) disinfectants on the formation of mutagens in surface waters used for human consumption. For this proposal, in vivo genotoxicity tests (Comet and micronucleus assay) were performed in an experimental pilot plant set up near Lake Trasimeno (Central Italy). The effects were detected in different tissues (haemocytes for the Comet assay and gills for the micronucleus test [MN]) of Dreissena polymorpha exposed in experimental basins supplied with lake water with/without the different disinfectants. Specimen collection was performed before disinfectant input for both tests and after the start of disinfection (3 h and 20 days for the Comet assay and 10 and 20 days for micronucleus test, respectively) to assess short- and long- term exposure effects during three sampling campaigns (October 2000, February 2001, and June 2001). Seasonal differences in baseline levels of DNA migration and micronucleus frequency were observed. Raw water quality modulation on disinfection by-product formation was shown. The results of the micronucleus and Comet assays on zebra mussel cells after in situ exposure to water disinfected with the two chlorinated compounds clearly indicate DNA/by-product interaction. PAA did not induce either clastogenic/aneugenic effects or DNA damage on this bioindicator.

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