GLOSSARY: Genotoxicity

Genotoxicity refers to a deleterious action on a cell's genetic material affecting its integrity. Genotoxic substances are known to be potentially mutagenic or carcinogenic, specifically those capable of causing genetic mutation and of contributing to the development of tumors. This includes both certain chemical compounds and certain types of radiation. Typical genotoxins like aromatic amines are believed to cause mutations because they are nucleophilic and form strong covalent bonds with DNA resulting with the formation of Aromatic Amine-DNA Adducts, preventing accurate replication. Genotoxins affecting sperm and eggs can pass genetic changes down to descendants who have never been exposed to the genotoxin.