The aim of this study was to evaluate current mutagenic activity of ambient rubber dust and fume exposure in the mixing and curing departments of two rubber tire companies situated in The Netherlands and Sweden. Salmonella typhimurium strains YG1021, YG1024 and YG1041 were used to study the possible presence of mutagenic nitroarenes and aromatic amines. A large difference in mutagenic activity was found between the two companies. While the rubber tire company situated in The Netherlands revealed overall high mutagenic activity of rubber dust and fumes in the mixing and curing departments, respectively, 430 and 279 rev/m(3) (YG1041), the Swedish company showed almost no mutagenic activity, respectively, 18 and 54 rev/m(3) (YG1041). Further identification of the mutagenic profile showed that mutagenic activity was exclusively observed in S. typhimurium strains with elevated levels of O-acetyltransferase activity (YG1041 and YG1024) in the presence of a metabolic active liver S9 fraction, possibly indicating the presence of indirect mutagenic aromatic amines. These results show that although production processes and lay-out within rubber tire companies are comparable, differences in rubber chemicals used and overall level of control measures (e.g., good housekeeping, cleanliness) are likely to result in substantial differences in mutagenic exposure levels between companies.