Genotoxic Agents: Heavy Metals Essay

1633 words - 7 pages

IntroductionFirstly it is important to define several key concepts that were important to know for the elaboration of our project. The first of them are the xenobiotic agents, according to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, these are "chemical compound[s] that [are] not produced by living organisms", this means that they are artificially produced by the man. Some of these chemical compounds are harmful to the living organisms and may highly alter or damage their DNA structure if they are exposed to them. These compounds are called genotoxic agents.Being aware of the presence of these agents is important to prevent several diseases that can be passed later through inheritance. This can be seen in the persons living near the polluted rivers where industries and homes dump their wastes. With this we can see that xenobiotic agents can severely affect large populations if they are constantly exposed to them.In this work we will explain the importance of knowing about the xenobiotic agents, specifically the metals in water, with the example of the Musi River in India and finally we will explain the actual state of the xenobiotic agents in Mexico and what is has been done to stop the problem.Part 1: Heavy Metals and DNAMetals in water are one of the most common examples of genotoxic agents made by the human being. There are many toxic heavy metals that can be highly harmful to the body; we can mention several examples, like cadmium, copper, mercury, nickel, and zinc. All of these metals when they are in an aqueous environment, they have several interactions with the DNA that can alter or damage it. Let's take some of the previous metals as examples of this: cadmium, for example, when in water if it's combined with calcium and manganese it can compact the DNA structure, this can also be caused by binding copper and calcium ions to the DNA in an aqueous environment . Other example of alteration of the DNA caused by metals is cadmium. This metal can cause structural damage to the DNA by changing totally the structure of adenine. It can also interfere with the transcription and replication processes of the DNA.We have to point out that metals in water affect every single organism it has contact with, worse if the organism lives in that same water where the metals are. For example, in a research conducted by Dr. Derrick Sugg and Dr. Ron Chesser from the U.S. Department of Energy along with Janet Brooks and Brian Grasman from the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, discovered that the fish in the Savvanah River had severe genetic modifications, with increased DNA breaks and affections to the DNA repair process caused by mercury and radioactive cesium of the river that was released by heavy industries that were upstream. Dr. Derrick Sugg pointed out that this problem in the Savannah River was of no public health concern because no one is permitted to fish there and there are no outlets of the river, still it is an important...

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