Genotoxicity of Nitrosulfonic Acids, Nitrobenzoic Acids, and Nitrobenzylalcohols, Pollutants Commonly Found in Ground Water Near Ammunition Facilities

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2-Amino-4,6-dinitrobenzoic acid (2-A-4,6-DNBA), 4-amino-2,6-dinitrobenzoic acid (4-A-2,6-DNBA), 2,4,6-trinitrobenzoic acid (2,4,6-TNBA), 2-amino-4, 6-dinitrobenzylalcohol (2-A-4,6-DNBAIc), 4-amino-2,6-dinitrobenzylalcohol (4-A-2,6-DNBAIc), 2,4-dinitrotoluol-5-sulfonic acid (2,4-DNT-5-SA), 2,4-dinitrotoluol-3-sulfonic acid (2,4-DNT-3-SA), and 2, 4-dinitrobenzoic acid (2,4-DNBA) are derivatives of nitro-explosives that have been detected in groundwater close to munitions facilities. In the present study, the genotoxicity of these compounds was evaluated in Salmonella/microsome assays (in strains TA100 and TA98, with and without S9 and in TA98NR without S9), in chromosomal aberration (CA) tests with Chinese hamster fibroblasts (V79), and in micronucleus (MN) assays with human hepatoma (HepG2) cells. All compounds except the sulfonic acids were positive in the bacterial mutagenicity tests, with 2,4,6-TNBA producing the strongest response (8023 revertants/μmol in TA98 without S9 activation). 2-A-4,6-DNBA was a direct acting mutagen in TA98, but negative in TA100. The other positive compounds were ˜1-3 orders of magnitude less mutagenic than 2,4,6-TNBA in TA98 and in TA100; relatively strong effects (˜50-400 revertants/μmol) were produced by the benzylacohols in the two indicator strains. With the exception of 2,4-DNBA, the mutagenic responses were lower in the nitroreductase-deficient strain TA98NR than in the parental strain. 2,4-DNBA produced a marginally positive response in the V79-cell CA assay; the other substances were devoid of activity. Only the benzoic acids were tested for MN induction in HepG2 cells, and all produced positive responses. As in the bacterial assays, the strongest effect was seen with 2,4,6-TNBA (significant induction at >1.9 μM). 4-A-2,6-DNBA was positive at 432 μM; the weakest effect was observed with 2,4,-DNBA (positive at ≥920 μM). The differences in the sensitivity of the indicator cells to these agents can be explained by differences in the activities of enzymes involved in the activation of the compounds. The strong responses produced by some of the compounds in the human-derived cells suggest that environmental exposure to these breakdown products of nitro-explosives may pose a cancer risk in man.

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