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Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Dec 15;44(24):9291-7. doi: 10.1021/es103020e. Epub 2010 Nov 15.

Bioavailability of PAHs in aluminum smelter affected sediments: evaluation through assessment of pore water concentrations and in vivo bioaccumulation.

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  • 1Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Gaustadalléen 21, 0349 Oslo, Norway.


Bioaccumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from coal tar pitch polluted sediments was predicted by (1) a generic approach based on organic carbon-water partitioning and Gibbs linear free energy relationship (between K(OW) and K(OC)), and (2) measurements of freely dissolved concentrations of PAHs in the sediment pore water, using passive samplers and solid phase extraction. Results from these predictions were compared with those from in vivo bioaccumulation experiments using Nereis diversicolor (Polychaeta), Hinia reticulata (Gastropoda), and Nuculoma tenuis (Bivalvia). Measured sediment/water partition coefficients were higher than predicted by the generic approach. Furthermore, predicted biota-to-sediment accumulation factors (BSAFs) derived from measured pore water concentrations were more in agreement with the bioaccumulation observed for two of the three species. Discrepancies associated with the third species (N. tenuis) were likely a result of particles remaining in the intestine (as shown by microscopic evaluation). These results indicate the importance of conducting site-specific evaluations of pore water concentrations and/or bioaccumulation studies by direct measurements to accurately provide a basis for risk assessment and remediation plans. The importance of knowledge regarding specific characteristics of model organisms is emphasized.

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