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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2009 Jul 1;238(1):47-55. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2009.04.012. Epub 2009 Apr 21.

Bioaccumulation potential of air contaminants: combining biological allometry, chemical equilibrium and mass-balances to predict accumulation of air pollutants in various mammals.

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  • 1Department of Environmental Science, Radboud University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, the Netherlands. karin.veltman@ntnu.no


In the present study we develop and test a uniform model intended for single compartment analysis in the context of human and environmental risk assessment of airborne contaminants. The new aspects of the model are the integration of biological allometry with fugacity-based mass-balance theory to describe exchange of contaminants with air. The developed model is applicable to various mammalian species and a range of chemicals, while requiring few and typically well-known input parameters, such as the adult mass and composition of the species, and the octanol-water and air-water partition coefficient of the chemical. Accumulation of organic chemicals is typically considered to be a function of the chemical affinity for lipid components in tissues. Here, we use a generic description of chemical affinity for neutral and polar lipids and proteins to estimate blood-air partition coefficients (K(ba)) and tissue-air partition coefficients (K(ta)) for various mammals. This provides a more accurate prediction of blood-air partition coefficients, as proteins make up a large fraction of total blood components. The results show that 68% of the modeled inhalation and exhalation rate constants are within a factor of 2.1 from independent empirical values for humans, rats and mice, and 87% of the predicted blood-air partition coefficients are within a factor of 5 from empirical data. At steady-state, the bioaccumulation potential of air pollutants is shown to be mainly a function of the tissue-air partition coefficient and the biotransformation capacity of the species and depends weakly on the ventilation rate and the cardiac output of mammals.

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