Induction of sister chromatid exchanges by coal dust and tobacco snuff extracts in human peripheral lymphocytes

Environ Mutagen. 1985;7(3):313-24. doi: 10.1002/em.2860070308.


The organic solvent extracts of sub-bituminous coal dust and tobacco snuff, both together and separately, were tested for the induction of sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) in human peripheral lymphocytes. The results indicate that these extracts induced SCEs, and that when tested together synergistically induced SCEs in two of three donors. Studies with the organic solvent extracts of all five ranks of coal indicate that the extracts of bituminous, lignite, and peat, but not anthracite, induced SCEs. Similar experiments conducted with water extracts show that bituminous, lignite, and peat, but not sub-bituminous extracts, induced SCEs, and that anthracite was equivocal. To determine whether individuals differed in their SCE responses to coal dust extracts, lymphocytes from five donors were tested with organic solvent extracts of bituminous and sub-bituminous coal. An analysis of variance indicates that the SCE response was significantly influenced by the donor (p less than 0.0001) and each of the two coal extracts (p less than 0.0001). From studies of workers occupationally exposed to coal dust, it is known that inhaled coal dust is cleared from the lungs by mucociliary action and introduced into the stomach by swallowing. Coal dust, or coal dust plus snuff, may be responsible for the increased frequency of gastric cancer observed in coal miners. The findings presented here suggest that coal dust, with or without tobacco snuff, may play a role in the elevated incidence of gastric cancer in coal miners. Because water extracts of some ranks of coal induced SCEs, there exists the possibility of adverse environmental effects due to coal leachates.

MeSH terms

  • Coal*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Dust
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Sister Chromatid Exchange / drug effects*
  • Tobacco*
  • Tobacco, Smokeless*


  • Coal
  • Dust
  • Plant Extracts