Combined effects of bioavailable organic contaminants in the aquatic environment.
Emelogu, Emmanuel Steven
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Passive sampling, as opposed to the conventional spot or bottle water sampling technique, has shown to be reliable and efficient in monitoring the toxicologically relevant, freely dissolved (e.g. bioavaialable) concentrations of a wide range of organic contaminants in water. At the same time, partitioning controlled delivery (passive dosing; PD) techniques promise to overcome many of the challenges associated with toxicity testing of hydrophobic substances that may bias the interpretation of toxicity data. The present study investigated the feasibility of coupling silicone rubber passive sampling devices (SR-PSDs) with bioassay techniques for both chemical and ecotoxicological assessment of complex mixtures of organic contaminants in the aquatic environment. SR-PSDs were deployed in water at various locations within the Ythan catchment (north east, Scotland, UK), Forth estuary and the Firth of Forth (east coast of central Scotland, UK) for 7 to 9 weeks. Following retrieval, extracts from the SR-PSDs were analysed for dissolved concentrations of a variety of organic contaminants including PAHs and PCBs using GC-MS and GC-ECD respectively and were screened for a wide range of pesticides using GC-MS/MS and LC-MS/MS. The extracts were further evaluated for acute cytotoxicity (i.e. neutral red uptake assay) and EROD induction potential using rainbow trout liver cell line (Oncorhynchus mykiss; RTL-W1) and for phytotoxicity and developmental toxicity potential using algal growth inhibition test (with a marine phytoplankton, Diacronema lutheri) and fish embryo toxicity test (with embryos from zebrafish Danio rerio) respectively. Overall, the individual and total dissolved concentrations of PAHs (ΣPAH40; parent and branched) and PCBs (ΣPCB32; ortho and mono-ortho) measured in water from the Ythan, Forth estuary and Firth of Forth were relatively low compared with other studies using PSDs. A number and level of pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides and fungicides of varying hydrophobicity (log KOWs ~2.25 to ~5.31) were detected in the silicone rubber (SR) extracts from the Ythan catchment, the Forth estuary and the Firth of Forth, suggesting input mainly from agricultural run-off and possibly from direct discharges. No statistically significant (p<0.05) acute cytotoxicity was observed following 48 h exposure of RTL-W1 cells to SR extracts from the Ythan catchment. But, on a sublethal level, for every site, statistically significant EROD activity was observed to some degree following 72 h exposure. In addition, developmental and algal toxicities on embryos of D. rerio and D. lutheri respectively, were measured in all the deployed samples compared with the procedural controls (undeployed samples). Interestingly, extracts of SR-PSDs from the Forth estuary and the Firth of Forth exhibited growth inhibitions on D. lutheri that were similar to those of extracts from the Ythan, even though, fewer numbers of pesticides were detected in the Forth estuary and Firth of Forth than the Ythan. This suggests that pesticides were not solely responsible for the observed effects in the Ythan catchment. To further improve data from toxicity testing of hydrophobic substances, the study identified the use of SR O-rings as a suitable passive dosing format in in vitro toxicity tests and was partially validated through their use in dosing RTL-W1 cells with two individual PAHs and subsequently determining cytotoxicity and EROD-activity.