The genotoxic effects of different size fractions of airborne particulate (Total, PM10 and PM2.5), extracted with acetone or toluene, were evaluated by: the Ames plate test (TA98 and TA100 strains, w/o S9), gene conversion and reversion (w/o endogenous metabolic activation) in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae D7 strain, and the comet assay on human leukocytes. The data on human leukocytes confirm the sensitivity of the comet assay and its applicability to assess genotoxicity in environmental samples. The PM2.5 fraction of airborne particulate generally shows the highest concentration of DNA-damaging compounds. Genotoxic response, in all the test systems applied, is highly dependent on extraction solvent used. Acetone seems to extract compounds with more similar genotoxic responses in the three test systems used than toluene extracts. Toluene appears to extract air pollutants genotoxic on yeast and leukocytes but is mainly cytotoxic on Salmonella.
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