Studies on the Mutagenicity of Mild Gasification Products of Coal and Their Subfractions by theSalmonella/Microsomal Assay
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Mild gasification of coal is a technology being developed in the United States in order to upgrade lower rank coals and facilitate their use in coal-burning electric generation plants. Thirteen coal-derived mild gasification products from different coal sources and processing conditions have been examined for their potential biohazards. The mutagenicity of these samples was tested with the Ames Salmonella/microsomal assay. Two solvents, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and polyoxyethylene-sorbitan monooleate (Tween 80), were used to dissolve samples in a manner to facilitate their interaction with the test organisms. The results showed that 9 of the 13 samples displayed mutagenic activity in test strains TA98 and/or TA100 with or without metabolic activation, whether dissolved in Tween 80 or DMSO. Five mutagenic and two nonmutagenic samples were class-fractionated into basic, acidic, nonpolar, and polar neutral subfractions to examine their class-related mutagenic activities. Results of the testing of subfractions of the five mutagenic and one nonmutagenic samples showed mutagenic activity in at least the nonpolar neutral fraction. The subfractions of the another nonmutagenic sample did not display any mutagenic activity. Chemical characterization of the subfractions revealed the existence of aromatic hydrocarbons in certain subfractions, which may be responsible for the mutagenic activity of the coal-derived mild gasification products.
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