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Assessment of DNA damage in Brazilian workers occupationally exposed to pesticides: a study from Central Brazil

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Abstract

We evaluated 41 rural workers occupationally exposed to pesticides and 32 subjects as a control group, using the micronucleus (MN) and the comet assay. For the comet assay, we evaluated the peripheral blood, and for the MN, we sampled cells from the oral epithelium. Damage to DNA was measured by tail length, % DNA in tail (% tail), olive tail moment (OTM), and tail moment (TM). The exposed group presented an 8× increase in MN frequency, when compared to the control group (p <0.05). When we contrasted the MN frequencies between the individuals that use and do not use personal protective equipment, we found a mean of 7.5 MN (57 % variance) and 12.1 MN (130 % variance), respectively. The binucleated cells were 0.04 and 0.005, in the exposed and control groups, respectively, indicating 8× increase in the number of binucleated cells, when comparing the groups (p <0.05). In the comet assay, we demonstrated statistically significant differences in three parameters (% DNA, OTM, and TM) indicating that the rural workers presented high levels of genomic damages. Our results indicate that occupational exposure to pesticides could cause genome damage in somatic cells, representing a potential health risk to Brazilian rural workers that deal constantly with agrochemicals without adequate personal protection equipment.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq/Edital Universal, 2010) and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Goiás (FAPEG-Políticas Públicas), Laboratório de Citogenética Humana e Genética Molecular (LaGene/SES-GO). The authors wish to thank the volunteers for their participation. R.P. Bastos and E.O.A. Costa thank CNPq for their fellowship.

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Correspondence to Daniela de Melo e Silva.

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Khayat, C.B., Costa, E.O.A., Gonçalves, M.W. et al. Assessment of DNA damage in Brazilian workers occupationally exposed to pesticides: a study from Central Brazil. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20, 7334–7340 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-013-1747-1

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