Faithful maintenance of the genome is crucial to the individual and to species. DNA damage arises from both endogenous sources such as water and oxygen and exogenous sources such as sunlight and tobacco smoke. In human cells, base alterations are generally removed by excision repair pathways that counteract the mutagenic effects of DNA lesions. This serves to maintain the integrity of the genetic information, although not all of the pathways are absolutely error-free. In some cases, DNA damage is not repaired but is instead bypassed by specialized DNA polymerases.