||Exposure to genotoxic compounds present in ambient air has been studied in Cotonou, Benin, a city where two-stroke motorbikes are the major form of transportation and gasoline quality is poor. Personal monitoring and biomarkers were used to assess the exposure. Non-smoking taxi-moto drivers (city) and village residents were the study subjects. Benzene exposure was significantly higher in the city, as compared to the village (76.0 ± 26.8 μg/m3 versus 3.4 ± 3.0, p = 0.0004). Urinary excretion of benzene and S-phenylmercapturic acid (S-PMA) were also highest in subjects living in the city, whereas 1-hydroxypyrene was not different.
The level of total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), associated with particles, ranged from 76.21 to 103.23 in Cotonou versus 1.55 ng/m3 for the village.
Determination of DNA damage in lymphocytes showed that subjects from the city had elevated number of lesions compared to subjects in the village in terms of bulky DNA adducts, 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine and 5-methylcytosine, whereas DNA fragmentations analysed by alkaline gel electrophoresis was not different between the subjects.
In conclusion, this study shows that air pollution is pronounced in Cotonou, Bénin and is associated with elevated levels of DNA damage in residents of the city compared to people living in a non-polluted rural village.