Coal is a mixture of chemicals with the capacity of promoting biochemical changes that may lead to DNA damage. In this study, the comet assay in peripheral blood cells, and the micronucleus test in blood smears were used to evaluate potential genotoxic effects derived from exposure to coal mining activities on wild populations of Mus musculus and Iguana iguana. Four locations from Colombia were evaluated: La Loma and La Jagua de Ibirico, two municipalities located near coal mining fields at the Department of Cesar; and Valledupar and Arjona, cities used as reference sites, both localized at least 100 and 200km far from the mines, respectively. Compared to Valledupar and Arjona, animals collected in close proximity to coal mining areas showed highest percentages of DNA damage for both species, evidencing that living around coal mining fields may result in an increase of DNA lesions in blood cells of rodents and reptiles. The results for micronucleus test were conflicting. Mice from Arjona had greater number of cells with micronucleus than those from the other studied locations, probably as a result of infection found by blood parasites. In summary, it was demonstrated that animals living around coal mining areas have a greater chance of having DNA damage, as measured by the comet assay, than those from sites far from the coal dust source.
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