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Genotoxicity is the result of a chemical or other agent specifically causing damage to cellular DNA. Genotoxins either bind to or cause damage to enzymes responsible for replicating DNA, resulting in mutations, and at times to cancerous cells or birth defects.


Some common types of genotoxins are ionizing radiation or aromatic amines. Aromatic amines are thought to cause mutation by accepting electrons, essentially forming a covalent bond with DNA, which then prevents accurate replication.

Other types of genotoxins that have been used in scientific experimentation include N-acetoxy-acetylaminofluorene (N-AcO-AAF), aminofluorene (AF), aflatoxin (which can be found in stored peanuts) and dimethylsulfate (DMS; a very toxic, volatile liquid and vapor).[1]


  1. DNA-Damaging Effects of Genotoxins in Mixture: Modulation of Covalent Binding to DNA Toxicological Sciences 53, 224-236 (2000)

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