Monitoring genotoxicity among gasoline station attendants and traffic enforcers in the City of Manila using the micronucleus assay with exfoliated epithelial cells

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Some types of occupations involve high levels of exposure to potentially genotoxic gaseous and particulate substances from internal combustion engines used in motor vehicles. These occupational exposures may contribute to the development of many illnesses, usually through chromosomal change mechanisms that include strand breakage, deletions, sister chromatid exchange and non-disjunction. To determine the effect of occupational exposure in gasoline station attendants and traffic enforcers, the micronucleus test was used. Exfoliated oral mucosa cells from 18 gasoline station attendants, 18 traffic enforcers and 18 control subjects in the City of Manila were examined for micronucleated cell (MNC) frequency. Analysis of buccal cells showed that MNC frequencies in exposed individuals were significantly greater than in control subjects (p ≤ 0.05). However, between gasoline station attendants and traffic enforcers, MNC frequencies of the two exposed groups exhibited no significant difference. No relation was also found between MNC frequency and any of the factors such as age, smoking habits, alcohol habits and working period. This was further confirmed in the multiple regression analysis which showed that only occupational exposure was a good predictor of MNC frequency. The results of this study suggest that gasoline station attendants and traffic enforcers, compared to the control individuals, are at a greater risk of chromosomal damage. For the assessment of chromosomal damage, the study, development, and standardization of tests are recommended for public institutions concerned with matters regarding environmental quality and community health.