Potential genotoxic effects of melted snow from an urban area revealed by the Allium cepa test
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The presence of well-known atmospheric pollutants is regularly screened for in large towns but knowledge about the effects of mixtures of different pollutants and especially their genotoxic potential is largely missing. Since falling snow collects pollutants from the air, melted snow samples could be suitable for evaluating potential genotoxicity. For this purpose the Allium cepa anaphase-telophase test was used to analyse melted snow samples from Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia. Samples of snow were taken at two sites, characterized by differences in pollution intensity, in three successive years. At the more polluted site the analyses showed a very high degree of both toxicity and genotoxicity in the first year of the study corresponding to the effects of the known mutagen used as the positive control. At the other site the situation was much better but not without warning signals. The results showed that standard analyses for the presence of certain contaminants in the air do not give an accurate picture of the possible consequences of urban air pollution because the genotoxic potential remains hidden. The A. cepo test has been demonstrated to be very convenient for evaluation of air pollution through analyses of melted snow samples. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.