A cytogenetic monitoring study was carried out on a group of workers from a bituminous coal Mine in Zonguldak province of Turkey, to investigate the genotoxic risk of occupational exposure to coal mine dust. Cytogenetic analysis, namely sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs), chromosomal aberrations (CAs) and micronucleus (MN) tests were performed on a strictly selected group of 39 workers and compared to 34 controls matched for gender, age, and habit. Smoking and age were considered as modulating factors. Both SCE and CA frequencies in coal miners appeared significantly higher than in controls. Similarly, there was a significant increase in the frequency of total micronuclei in exposed group as compared to control group. The effect of smoking on the level of SCE and MN was significant in the control group. A positive correlation between the age and the level of SCE was also found in controls. The frequencies of both SCE and CA were significantly enhanced with the years of exposure. The results or this study demonstrated that occupational exposure to coal mine dust leads to a significant induction of cytogenetic damage in peripheral lymphocytes of workers engaged in underground coal mining. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.