The use of chlorinated disinfectants during drinking-water production has been shown to generate halogenated compounds as a result of interactions of humic acids with chlorine. Such chlorinated by-products have been shown to induce genotoxic effects and consumption of chlorinated drinkingwater has been correlated with increased risk for cancer induction in human populations. The aim of this work was to test the potential genotoxic effects on circulating erythrocytes of the fish Cyprinus carpio exposed in vivo to well-waters disinfected with sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), chlorine dioxide (ClO2) or peracetic acid (CH3COO2H, PAA), in the absence or presence of standard humic acids (HA). The effects were measured by use of the micronucleus (MN) and the single-cell gel electrophoresis (Comet) assays at different sampling times after a 3-day exposure period. The exposure to chlorine disinfectants without the addition of HA produced a clear toxic effect. Significant cytogenetic damage (i.e. MN induction) was detected in fish populations exposed to both NaClO and ClO2 with humic acids. In the Comet assay, a significant decrease of DNA migration was observed in erythrocytes of specimens after exposure to NaClO-disinfected water without HA. No effects were observed in any other experimental condition.
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