Extracts of selected xerographic toners and copies were found to be mutagenic in the Salmonella assay. The activity was independent of the xerographic hardware and process and was traced to nitropyrenes present as impurities in the carbon black, the toner colorant. Manufacturing process changes resulted in a substantial reduction of the nitropyrene content of the carbon black and thus in the mutagenicity of the corresponding toners. Nitropyrenes are potent frameshift mutagens, and possible mechanisms for their biological action are discussed.

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