Application of micronucleus test and comet assay to evaluate BTEX biodegradation

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The BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) mixture is an environmental pollutant that has a high potential to contaminate water resources, especially groundwater. The bioremediation process by microorganisms has often been used as a tool for removing BTEX from contaminated sites. The application of biological assays is useful in evaluating the efficiency of bioremediation processes, besides identifying the toxicity of the original contaminants. It also allows identifying the effects of possible metabolites formed during the biodegradation process on test organisms. In this study, we evaluated the genotoxic and mutagenic potential of five different BTEX concentrations in rat hepatoma tissue culture (HTC) cells, using comet and micronucleus assays, before and after biodegradation. A mutagenic effect was observed for the highest concentration tested and for its respective non-biodegraded concentration. Genotoxicity was significant for all non-biodegraded concentrations and not significant for the biodegraded ones. According to our results, we can state that BTEX is mutagenic at concentrations close to its water solubility, and genotoxic even at lower concentrations, differing from some described results reported for the mixture components, when tested individually. Our results suggest a synergistic effect for the mixture and that the biodegradation process is a safe and efficient methodology to be applied at BTEX-contaminated sites. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.




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Chemosphere, v. 90, n. 3, p. 1030-1036, 2013.

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