Investigations on genotoxic effects of groundwater from the Mitterndorfer Senke and from the vicinity of Wiener Neustadt

Siegfried Knasmüller, Christoph Helma, Peter M. Eckl, Eva Gottmann, Hans Steinkellner, Fekadu Kassie, Thomas Haider, Wolfram Parzefall, Rolf Schulte-Hermann

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10 Scopus citations


Introduction: This report describes the first study on genotoxic effects of Austrian ground- and drinking waters. Samples from the Mitterndorfer Senke (MS) and the vicinity of Wiener Neustadt were tested over a three years period. The MS is the largest aquifer in Austria. Due to deposition of industrial and community wastes, chemicals have polluted the groundwater in this area. Aim of the present study was to elucidate if consumption of these waters might pose a carcinogenic risk to humans. Methods: 43 Water samples were tested in a test battery which consisted of bacterial gene mutation assays (Salmonella strains TA100 and TA98), micronucleus (MN) assays with cultures of primary rat hepatocytes and plant bioassays (MN tests with Tradescantia and Vicia faba). For the bacterial assays, the water samples were extracted with XAD resins. Results: In total, 27,9% of the samples caused positive effects; 8 samples were active in Salmonella microsome assays, Strain TA100 was particularly sensitive upon addition of metabolic activation mix (6 positive samples). Four samples were positive exclusively in MN assays with cultures of primary rat hepatocytes; one sample gave positive results in all three bioassays. Finished waters from waterworks were consistently devoid of mutagenic activity under all experimental conditions. Discussion: Overall, only a small fraction of the groundwaters caused mutagenic effects and in all cases the activities were moderate. Comparison of the results of the present study with data obtained in other investigations under similar experimental conditions shows that the genotoxicity of groundwaters of the MS area are lower than the effects caused by ground- and drinking waters from other countries. The fact that no genotoxic activity was detected in any of the finished drinking waters can be taken as an indication that consumption of these waters does not pose a health hazard arising from contamination with genotoxic carcinogens to humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)824-833
Number of pages10
JournalWiener Klinische Wochenschrift
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 11 1998


  • Genotoxicity
  • Ground water
  • Micronucleus test
  • Mitterndorfer Senke
  • Salmonella typhimurium


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