Genetic damage in coal and uranium miners


Mining has a direct impact on the environment and on the health of miners and is considered one of the most hazardous occupations worldwide. Miners are exposed to several occupational health risks, including genotoxic substances, which may cause adverse health effects, such as cancer. This review summarizes the relation between DNA damage and mining activities, focusing on coal and uranium miners. The search was performed using electronic databases, including original surveys reporting genetic damage in miners. Additionally, a temporal bibliometric analysis was performed using an electronic database to create a map of cooccurrence terms. The majority of studies were performed with regard to occupational exposure to coal, whereas genetic damage was assessed mainly through chromosomal aberrations (CAs), micronuclei (MNs) and comet assays. The bibliometric analysis demonstrated associations of coal exposure with silicosis and pneumoconiosis, uranium miners with lung cancer and tumors and some associated factors, such as age, smoking, working time and exposure to radiation. Significantly higher DNA damage in miners compared to nonexposed groups was observed in most of the studies. The timeline reveals that classic biomarkers (comet assay, micronucleus test and chromosomal aberrations) are still important tools to assess genotoxic/mutagenic damage in occupationally exposed miners; however, newer studies concerning genetic polymorphisms and epigenetic changes in miners are being conducted. A major challenge is to investigate further associations between miners and DNA damage and to encourage further studies with miners of other types of ores.

Authors: Flavio Manoel Rodrigues da Silva Júnior, Ronan Adler Tavella, Caroline Lopes Feijo Fernandes, Marina Dos Santos
; Full Source: Mutation research 2021 Jun;866:503348. doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2021.503348.