Primary DNA Damage in Dry Cleaners with Perchlorethylene Exposure

Int J Occup Environ Med. 2017 Oct;8(4):224-231. doi: 10.15171/ijoem.2017.1089.


Background: Perchloroethylene is a halogenated solvent widely used in dry cleaning. International agency of research on cancer classified this chemical as a probable human carcinogen.

Objective: To evaluate the extent of primary DNA damage in dry cleaner workers who were exposed to perchloroethylene as compared to non-exposed subjects. The effect of exposure modifying factors such as use of personal protective equipment, perceived risk, and reported safe behaviors on observed DNA damage were also studied.

Methods: 59 exposed and non-exposed workers were selected from Yazd, Iran. All the 33 exposed workers had work history at least 3 months in the dry cleaning shops. Peripheral blood sampling was performed. Microscope examination was performed under fluorescent microscope (400×). Open comet software was used for image analysis. All biological analysis was performed in one laboratory.

Results: Primary DNA damage to leukocytes in dry cleaners was relatively high. The median tail length, %DNA in tail, and tail moment in exposed group were significantly higher than those in non-exposed group. There was no significant difference between smokers and nonsmokers in terms of tail length, tail moment, and %DNA in tail. There was no significant correlation between duration of employment in dry cleaning and observed DNA damage in terms of tail length, tail moment and %DNA in tail. Stratified analysis based on exposed and nonexposed category showed no significant relationship between age and observed DNA damage.

Conclusion: Occupationally exposure to perchloroethylene can cause early DNA damage in dry cleaners.

Keywords: Clothing; Comet assay; DNA damage; Occupational exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Comet Assay / methods*
  • DNA Damage / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis
  • Tetrachloroethylene / adverse effects*


  • Tetrachloroethylene