Textile processes release various waste streams, gaseous, liquid and solid, into the surroundings and these are capable of contaminating the environment, posing health hazards to the biota. There is paucity of information on textile effluent induced cyto-genotoxicity in eukaryotic plant systems. This study investigated the cytotoxicity and DNA damaging effects of textile effluent using the Allium test. Twelve onion bulbs were grown in concentrations, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100% (v/v; effluent/tap water) of the effluent (tap water serving as control), for 96 h. Daily root length inhibition for 4 days and cytogenetic analyses at 48 h were investigated. There was significant (p < 0.0001) root growth retardation with 50% effective concentration (EC50) values of 16, 35, 6.5 and 8% for the 24, 48, 72 and 96 h, respectively. Also a concentration dependent significant (p < 0.05) decrease in cell proliferation and increase in chromosomal aberrations compared to the control were observed. Cytological aberrations such as binucleated cells, sticky chromosomes, chromosome fragments and anaphase bridges were induced by the effluents in the root meristems. Fe, Cd, Mn, Ni, Cr, and other physicochemical parameters analysed in the samples may have induced the observed cytogenotoxic effects. This indicates that textile effluent is capable of inducing genome instability and cytotoxicity in A. cepa. The findings may suggest environmental pollution and public health risk from textile effluent exposure. It is also useful in promulgating stringent rules discouraging illegal effluent discharge into the environment.
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