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Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Oct 1;35(19):3841-8.

Quantification and prediction of the detoxifying properties of humic substances related to their chemical binding to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia.


Effects of 27 different humic materials on the toxicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were studied for crustacean Daphnia magna. Sources included isolated humic acids, fulvic acids, and their combination from soil, peat, and freshwater. The PAH used were pyrene, fluoranthene, and anthracene. The observed reduction in toxicity of PAH in the presence of humic substances (HS) was shown to be a result of the detoxification effect caused by the chemical binding of PAH to HS and of the direct effect of HS on D. magna. An approach was developed to quantify the detoxifying impact of humic materials related to their chemical binding to PAH with a use of the "constant of detoxification" or "toxicological partition coefficient" K(oc)D. The latter was proposed to determine by fitting the experimental relationships of the detoxification effect versus concentration of HS. The obtained K(oc)D values were well tracked by the corresponding partition coefficients determined by the fluorescence quenching technique (K(oc)fq): K(oc)D=b x K(oc)fq, b (mean+/-Cl, n=26, P=95%)=2.6+/-0.3, 4.6+/-0.6, and 6.0+/-1.4 for pyrene, fluoranthene, and anthracene, respectively. The predictive relationships between the structure and detoxifying properties of humic materials in relation to PAH were developed. It was shown that the magnitude of the K(oc)D values correlated closely with the aromaticity of humic materials characterized with the 13C NMR descriptors (sigma(C)Ar, sigma(C)Ar/sigma(C)Alk) and atomic H/C ratio. The obtained relationships showed the highest detoxifying potential of the humic materials enriched with aromatics and allowed a conclusion on the chemical binding as the governing mechanism of the mitigating action of HS on the toxicity of PAH.

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