Environmental mutagens are defined as chemical and physical agents in the environment that induce genetic mutations or increase mutation rates during the human life span . Most mutagens act as human carcinogens or exert genotoxic effects on the next generation via germ cells.
The Japanese Environmental Mutagen Society (JEMS) was founded in 1972 in order to promote basic and applied research on mutagens. JEMS also aims to spread their reference information and technology to the general population . The first president of JEMS was Dr. Takashi Sugimura, the National Cancer Center. JEMS research includes searches for unidentified mutagenic substances in foods, water, and the atmosphere; the measurement of mutagenic substances in the environment; the elucidation of mutagenic and carcinogenic mechanisms; the elucidation of differences in genetic susceptibility among humans or animals; investigations on the complex effects of some mutagens; genotoxicity tests on foods, medicine, and chemical materials; the development and modification of genotoxicity tests; and carcinogenic risk evaluations of substances. JEMS also contributes to government plans such as assessing safety standards for chemical issues and establishing standard genotoxicity tests. JEMS has a long history of these studies and many eminent achievements, which contribute to the promotion of human health .
JEMS has been one of the core members of the International Association of Environmental Mutagen Societies (IAEMS) since it was founded in 1973 during the 1st International Conference on Environmental Mutagens (ICEM) held by Dr. Bruce Ames in Asilomar, USA . At this conference, many substances including known carcinogens were identified as mutagens. These findings had an impact on research on carcinogenicity worldwide .
JEMS has published an official journal, Environmental Mutagen Research, since 1973, and the journal then moved to Genes and Environment (G&E) in 2006. The society subsequently published G&E quarterly and successfully transmitted their contents to the international scientific community. Special issues of G&E are useful and convenient sources for highlighting the timely topics of environmental mutagenesis and genotoxicology, such as nanomaterials, air pollution, radiation risks, genotoxic thresholds, and epigenetics . In 2015, JEMS decided to make the journal open access, and has published it for two years.
Current and future important subjects related to environmental mutagen research that further advances this research field are described herein, and the roles of JEMS and G&E for this purpose are discussed.