Assessment of DNA damage in workers occupationally exposed to pesticide mixtures by the alkaline comet assay

Undeger U., Basaran N.

ARCHIVES OF TOXICOLOGY, vol.76, no.7, pp.430-436, 2002 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 76 Issue: 7
  • Publication Date: 2002
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00204-002-0355-5
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.430-436
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


The potential genetic hazard of pesticides to human beings is of great concern in occupational and environmental settings because of the widespread use of these chemicals for domestic and industrial applications. Various studies have revealed a significantly elevated risk for particular tumours in humans exposed to some pesticides. Results from the biological monitoring or cytogenetic methods for the detection of health risks to pesticides have given both positive and negative results of mutagenicity. In this study DNA damage in peripheral lymphocytes of 33 pesticide-exposed workers employed in the municipality of Ankara (Turkey) for at least I year was examined by alkaline single-cell gel electrophoresis, the 'comet' technique. Results were compared with those from 33 controls of comparable age, sex and smoking habits, which were not occupationally exposed to pesticides. Work characteristics of the exposed workers and the use of personnel protective measures were also investigated. The DNA damage observed in lymphocytes of the workers was significantly higher than that in the controls (P<0.001). The observed DNA damage was found to be significantly lower (P<0.001) in workers applying some of the necessary individual safety protections during their work. Cigarette smoking was not related to increases in DNA damage; also, no significant association was found between the duration of occupational exposure to pesticides and the degree of DNA damage.