Cultured Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells were incubated with dilutions of natural or synthetic crude oils and subsequently exposed to near ultraviolet light (NUV). Although the magnitude of photo-induced cytotoxicity in CHO was essentially independent of the source of the oil (within a factor of two), two shale oils were exceptionally high in photo-induced mutagenic activity eliciting a response 10-12 times the observed natural background mutation frequency. Other shale oils, natural crude oils and a solvent refined coal medium distillate blend were weaker or negative in photo-induced mutagenic activity. Hydrotreatment of a photoactive shale oil, although eliminating the mutagenic potential, did not reduce the oil's cytotoxic potential.
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