Mutagenicity of coal-dust and smokeless-tobacco extracts in Salmonella typhimurium strains with differing levels of O-acetyltransferase activities

Mutat Res. 1994 Jun;321(4):253-64. doi: 10.1016/0165-1218(94)90076-0.


Epidemiological studies have indicated an increased incidence of gastric neoplasia in coal miners. Because smokeless tobacco use is prevalent in the mining industry, nitrites or other components of these products may be etiologically associated with these gastric neoplasms. In this study both nitrosated and non-nitrosated coal-dust (from West Virginia and New Mexico) as well as smokeless-tobacco (snuff and chewing tobacco) extracts were examined for the presence of aromatic amines and nitroarenes by comparing the activities of these extracts in the pre-incubation variant of the Ames assay. Salmonella strains with differing O-acetyltransferase activities (TA98 and YG1024) were utilized in this investigation. The results of the examination of the coal-dust extracts indicated positive activity only in the nitrosated extracts. Both nitrosated extracts elicited an increased number of revertants (2-4-fold) on YG1024 without S9 in comparison to TA98, suggesting the presence of nitroarenes in these extracts. Additionally, the nitrosated West Virginia coal extract showed higher levels of activity on YG1024 with S9, indicating the possible presence of aromatic amines in this complex mixture. The non-nitrosated smokeless-tobacco extracts showed activity only on YG1024 in the presence of S9, with the highest amount of activity occurring in the snuff sample. Except for the chewing-tobacco extract on TA98 without S9, positive activity was found in both nitrosated tobacco extracts on YG1024 and TA98. As with the coal extracts, the presence of nitroarenes was inferred for these nitrosated materials. A comparative study of the non-nitrosated snuff extract across 5 tester strains with varying sensitivities to aromatic amines and nitroarenes (TA98NR, TA98/1,8-DNP6, TA98, YG1021 and YG1024) indicated that aromatic amines were a probable source of the mutagenic activity. The curing process and/or the addition of certain flavorants are potential sources of the mutagenic aromatic amines suggested to be present in the non-nitrosated snuff extract. These findings are consistent with an etiologic role supplementary to the nitroso compounds for mutagenic nitroarenes and aromatic amines in the development of gastric neoplasia in coal miners.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetyltransferases / metabolism
  • Biotransformation
  • Coal / toxicity*
  • Dust / adverse effects*
  • Mutagenicity Tests / methods*
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • Nitrosation
  • Nitroso Compounds / toxicity
  • Plants, Toxic*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / drug effects
  • Salmonella typhimurium / enzymology*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / genetics
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / chemistry
  • Tobacco, Smokeless / toxicity*


  • Coal
  • Dust
  • Mutagens
  • Nitroso Compounds
  • Acetyltransferases