This work is dedicated to the memory of James F. Crow (1916–2012).
Article first published online: 20 FEB 2012
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis
Volume 53, Issue 3, pages 166–172, April 2012
How to Cite
DeMarini, D. M. (2012), Declaring the existence of human germ-cell mutagens. Environ. Mol. Mutagen., 53: 166–172. doi: 10.1002/em.21685
This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.
- Issue published online: 3 MAR 2012
- Article first published online: 20 FEB 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 23 JAN 2011
- Manuscript Revised: 20 JAN 2011
- Manuscript Received: 11 JAN 2011
- US Environmental Protection Agency
- tobacco smoke;
- ionizing radiation;
- air pollution;
- heritable effects
After more than 80 years of searching for human germ-cell mutagens, I think that sufficient evidence already exists for a number of agents to be so considered, and definitive confirmation seems imminent due to the application of recently developed genomic techniques. In preparation for this, an assessment panel of internationally recognized experts in germ-cell biology and genomics is required to consider either the current evidence now, or impending genomic evidence later, to declare whether an agent is a human germ-cell mutagen. I propose that such a panel be organized under the aegis of the World Health Organization and constructed similarly to the working groups assembled by the International Agency for Research on Cancer for the evaluation of human carcinogens. Support from prominent national and international organizations would be important. Many regulatory agencies already have procedures in place for assessing potential human germ-cell mutagens, and the time is approaching when definitive genomic data in humans will obligate such evaluations. In my view, application of an IARC-type of assessment using available evidence leads to the conclusion that ionizing radiation, cancer chemotherapy, cigarette smoking, and air pollution are “Group 1” human germ-cell mutagens. Consideration of the potential adverse health effects to the unexposed offspring of an exposed parent will usher in an entirely new realm of environmental health assessment. I suggest that the long search for human germ-cell mutagens is about to end, and a demonstration of the much-anticipated linkage between heritable disease and environmental factors is poised to begin. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.