Biologic monitoring of exposure to chemical mutagens in the occupational environment

Teratog Carcinog Mutagen. 1982;2(2):137-50. doi: 10.1002/1520-6866(1990)2:2<137::aid-tcm1770020204>;2-4.


Occupational exposure to chemical mutagens can be monitored by measuring the chemical interaction that occurs between the exposing agent and biologic macro-molecules. Such interaction is detectable in the body fluids as adducts of, e.g., DNA or glutathione. The mutagenic compounds or their metabolites can also be measured from urine samples, by use of bacterial mutagenicity assays. Much basic research is still needed before these methodologies are applicable for routine monitoring. At present, cytogenetic approaches appear to be nearest to routine surveillance in detecting early biologic effects in exposed humans. Studies on structural chromosome aberrations or sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) in peripheral blood lymphocytes obviously detect different molecular injuries, and the results from in vivo occupational exposures do not necessarily correlate. Somatic chromosome damage should always be considered a warning sign of potentially adverse effects, and such damage should lead to decreased exposure to the causative agent.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Mutagens / adverse effects*
  • Mutagens / metabolism
  • Mutagens / urine
  • Nucleic Acids / metabolism
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Medicine*
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Sister Chromatid Exchange


  • Mutagens
  • Nucleic Acids
  • Proteins