Alexandra S. Long, Christine L. Lemieux, Paul Yousefi, Ilse Ruiz-Mercado,
Nicholas L. Lam,Carolina Romero Orellana, Paul A. White, Kirk R. Smith,
and Nina Holland

Human urinary mutagenicity after wood smoke exposure during traditional temazcal use Mutagenesis (2014) 29 (5): 367-377 first published online August 1, 2014 doi:10.1093/mutage/geu025


In Central America, the traditional temazcales or wood-fired steam baths, commonly used by many Native American populations, are often heated by wood fires with little ventilation, and this use results in high wood smoke exposure. Urinary mutagenicity has been previously employed as a non-invasive biomarker of human exposure to combustion emissions. This study examined the urinary mutagenicity in 19 indigenous Mayan families from the highlands of Guatemala who regularly use temazcales (N = 32), as well as control (unexposed) individuals from the same population (N = 9). Urine samples collected before and after temazcal exposure were enzymatically deconjugated and extracted using solid-phase extraction. The creatinine-adjusted mutagenic potency of urine extracts was assessed using the plate-incorporation version of the Salmonella mutagenicity assay with strain YG1041 in the presence of exogenous metabolic activation. The post-exposure mutagenic potency of urine extracts were, on average, 1.7-fold higher than pre-exposure samples (P < 0.005) and also significantly more mutagenic than the control samples (P < 0.05). Exhaled carbon monoxide (CO) was ~10 times higher following temazcal use (P < 0.0001), and both CO level and time spent in temazcal were positively associated with urinary mutagenic potency (i.e. P < 0.0001 and P = 0.01, respectively). Thus, the wood smoke exposure associated with temazcal use contributes to increased excretion of conjugated mutagenic metabolites. Moreover, urinary mutagenic potency is correlated with other metrics of exposure (i.e. exhaled CO, duration of exposure). Since urinary mutagenicity is a biomarker associated with genetic damage, temazcal use may therefore be expected to contribute to an increased risk of DNA damage and mutation, effects associated with the initiation of cancer.

? The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the UK Environmental Mutagen Society.

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