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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Nov 1;41(21):7472-8.

Predicting PAH bioaccumulation and toxicity in earthworms exposed to manufactured gas plant soils with solid-phase microextraction.

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  • 1Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80177, 3508 TD Utrecht, The Netherlands. M.T.O.Jonker@uu.nl


Soils from former manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites are often heavily contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Current risk assessment methods that rely on total PAH concentrations likely overstate adverse effects of such soils since bioavailability is ignored. In this study, solid-phase microextraction (SPME) was applied to estimate bioavailable PAH concentrations and toxicity in earthworms exposed to 15 MGP soils. In addition, PAH sorption to all soils (K0o values) was determined. The results showed a several orders of magnitude variation in Koc values, demonstrating that generic organic carbon-normalized sorption coefficients will typically be overconservative at MGP sites. SPME-predicted bioaccumulation generally was within a factor of 10 of measured bioaccumulation (in earthworm bioassays), in contrast to current risk assessment model estimates that overpredicted bioaccumulation 10-10 000 times. Furthermore, on the basis of estimated total body residues of narcotic PAHs, SPME correctly predicted worm mortality observed during bioassays in the majority of cases. For MGP sites where current risk assessment procedures indicate concerns, SPME thus provides a useful tool for performing a refined, site-specific assessment.

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