Though microbially safe, concerns have been raised about the genotoxic/mutagenic quality of solar-disinfected drinking water, which might be compromised as a result of photodegradation of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles used as SODIS reactors. This study assessed genotoxic risk associated with the possible release of genotoxic compounds into water from PET bottles during SODIS, using the Ames fluctuation test. Negative genotoxicity results were obtained for water samples that had been in PET bottles and exposed to normal SODIS conditions (strong natural sunlight) over 6 months. Under SODIS conditions, bottles were exposed to 6 h of sunlight, followed by overnight room temperature storage. They were then emptied and refilled the following day and exposed to sunlight again. Genotoxicity was detected after 2 months in water stored in PET bottles and exposed continuously (without refilling) to sunlight for a period ranging from 1 to 6 months. However, similar genotoxicity results were also observed for the dark control (without refill) samples at the same time-point and in no other samples after that time; therefore it is unlikely that this genotoxicity event is related to solar exposure.
Keywords: Ames fluctuation assay, mutagenicity/genotoxicity, PET bottles, SODIS, solar water disinfection