Exposure to runoff from coal-tar-sealed pavement induces genotoxicity and impairment of DNA repair capacity in the RTL-W1 fish liver cell line

Sci Total Environ. 2015 Jul 1;520:73-80. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.03.005. Epub 2015 Mar 18.


Coal-tar-based (CTB) sealcoat, frequently applied to parking lots and driveways in North America, contains elevated concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and related compounds. The RTL-W1 fish liver cell line was used to investigate two endpoints (genotoxicity and DNA-repair-capacity impairment) associated with exposure to runoff from asphalt pavement with CTB sealcoat or with an asphalt-based sealcoat hypothesized to contain about 7% CTB sealcoat (AS-blend). Genotoxic potential was assessed by the Formamido pyrimidine glycosylase (Fpg)-modified comet assay for 1:10 and 1:100 dilutions of runoff samples collected from 5 h to 36 d following sealcoat application. DNA-repair capacity was assessed by the base excision repair comet assay for 1:10 dilution of samples collected 26 h and 36 d following application. Both assays were run with and without co-exposure to ultraviolet-A radiation (UVA). With co-exposure to UVA, genotoxic effects were significant for both dilutions of CTB runoff for three of four sample times, and for some samples of AS-blend runoff. Base excision repair was significantly impaired for CTB runoff both with and without UVA exposure, and for AS-blend runoff only in the absence of UVA. This study is the first to investigate the effects of exposure to the complex mixture of chemicals in coal tar on DNA repair capacity. The results indicate that co-exposure to runoff from CT-sealcoated pavement and UVA as much as a month after sealcoat application has the potential to cause genotoxicity and impair DNA repair capacity.

Keywords: Coal tar; DNA repair activity; Genotoxicity; N-heterocycle; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon; Urban runoff.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coal Tar / analysis
  • Coal Tar / toxicity*
  • Construction Materials
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Hydrocarbons / toxicity
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • North America
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Hydrocarbons
  • Mutagens
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Coal Tar
  • asphalt