Mutagenic activity, measured by the bacterial fluctuation assay and thioether concentration in urine from workers at a chemical plant producing pharmaceuticals and explosives, was determined before and after exposure. Of 12 groups only those exposed to trinitrotoluene (n = 14) showed a significant increase in mutagenic activity using Salmonella typhimurium TA 98 without any exogenous metabolic system. The same strain responded only weakly when the S-9 mix was used; with Escherichia coli WP2 uvrA no effect of exposure was observed. Urinary thioether concentration was higher among smokers than among non-smokers, but occupational exposure had no effect. Urinary mutagenicity testing may be a useful tool for screening potentially genotoxic exposures in complex chemical environments.
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