Evaluation of the migration of mutagens/carcinogens from PET bottles into mineral water by Tradescantia/micronuclei test, Comet assay on leukocytes and GC/MS

Sci Total Environ. 2003 Jan 20;302(1-3):101-8. doi: 10.1016/s0048-9697(02)00349-2.


This study monitored the release of mutagenic/carcinogenic compounds into mineral water (natural and carbonated) from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, using a plant mutagenicity test which reveals micronuclei formation in Tradescantia pollen cells (Trad/MCN test), a DNA damage assay (Comet assay) on human leukocytes and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) for the characterisation of migrants. The water samples were collected at a bottling plant and stored in PET bottles for a period ranging from 1 to 12 months. Every month some samples were randomly collected and lyophilised, the residual powders were extracted with organic solvents and then analysed by GC/MS and tested for DNA damage in human leukocytes, or reconstituted with distilled water to obtain concentrates for the exposure of Tradescantia inflorescences. Micronuclei increase in pollen was found only in natural mineral water stored for 2 months. DNA-damaging activity was found in many of the natural and carbonated water samples. Spring water was negative in the plant micronuclei test and the Comet assay, whereas distributed spring water showed DNA-damaging effects, suggesting a possible introduction of genotoxins through the distribution pipelines. GC/MS analysis showed the presence in mineral water of di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, a nongenotoxic hepatocarcinogenic plasticizer, after 9 months of storage in PET bottles.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogens / analysis*
  • Comet Assay
  • Commelinaceae / genetics
  • DNA Damage
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes
  • Mineral Waters*
  • Mutagens / analysis*
  • Pollen
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates / chemistry*
  • Product Packaging*


  • Carcinogens
  • Mineral Waters
  • Mutagens
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates