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Outdoor air pollution and DNA damage
  1. D M DeMarini,
  2. L D Claxton
  1. US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr D M DeMarini
 Environmental Carcinogenesis Division (B143-06), US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA; demarini.david{at}

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Commentary on the paper by Tovalin et al (see page 230)

Although working outdoors has frequently been considered more healthful than working indoors, a growing literature suggests that outdoor air exposures increase the risk for a variety of diseases, such as asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer.1,2 Consistent with these epidemiological studies are reports using the 32P-postlabelling assay for stable DNA adducts showing that outdoor air causes DNA damage,3 which is a prerequisite for most mutation and cancer. Supporting these observations are hundreds of studies using primarily the Salmonella mutagenicity assay showing that the particulate and volatile fractions of outdoor air are mutagenic.4

As reviewed by Tovalin and colleagues5 in this issue of OEM, a few studies have used the single cell gel electrophoresis (comet) assay to assess DNA damage associated with outdoor air pollution. However, unlike many of the studies using the 32P-postlabelling assay, studies using the comet assay have not included the personal monitoring of pollutants in order to link the …

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  • Competing interests: none declared

  • This manuscript has been reviewed by the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, US Environmental Protection Agency, and approved for publication. Approval does not signify that the contents necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

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