Baccharis trimera (Less.) DC as genotoxicity indicator of exposure to coal and emissions from a thermal power plant

Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2013 Oct;65(3):434-41. doi: 10.1007/s00244-013-9918-0. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


During coal combustion, hazardous elements are discharged that impair environmental quality. Plant cover is the first available surface for the atmospheric pollutants in terrestrial ecosystems. The aim of this study was to evaluate genotoxicity in the aqueous extract of the native plant, Baccharis trimera, exposed to coal and emissions from a thermal power plant (coal-fired power plant in Candiota, Brazil), correlating seasonality, wind tunnel predominance, and presence of inorganic elements. The presence of inorganic elements in the aerial parts of B. trimera was analyzed by particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) spectrometry, and genotoxicity was evaluated by ex vivo comet assay. The genotoxic effects of aqueous extracts of B. trimera from four sites located in the area around power plant were analyzed by comet assay in peripheral human lymphocytes. Winter samples showed greater levels of metals than summer samples. Genotoxicity was detected in B. trimera extracts collected from the region exposed to extraction and burning coal. Extracts from the site impacted by the dominant wind induced more damage to DNA than those from other sites. Based on our data, we can suggest that in winter the inorganic elements from extraction and burning of coal and carried through the wind tunnel were responsible for the genotoxicity observed in aqueous extract of B. trimera.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Movements
  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Baccharis / drug effects*
  • Baccharis / genetics
  • Brazil
  • Coal / analysis
  • Coal / toxicity*
  • Comet Assay
  • DNA Damage
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Male
  • Metals / analysis
  • Metals / toxicity*
  • Plant Components, Aerial / chemistry
  • Plant Components, Aerial / drug effects
  • Power Plants
  • Seasons
  • Spectrometry, X-Ray Emission


  • Air Pollutants
  • Coal
  • Metals