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Rev Environ Contam Toxicol. 2014;230:59-82. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-04411-8_3.

Toxicity reference values for protecting aquatic birds in China from the effects of polychlorinated biphenyls.

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  • 1College of Water Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China.


PCBs are typical of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic compounds (PBTs) that are widely distributed in the environment and can biomagnify through aquatic food webs, because of their stability and lipophilic properties. Fish-eating birds are top predators in the aquatic food chain and may suffer adverse effects from exposure to PCB concentrations. In this review, we address the toxicity of PCBs to birds and have derived tissue residue guidelines (TRGs) and toxic reference values (TRVs) for PCBs for protecting birds in China. In deriving these protective indices, we utilized available data and three approaches, to wit: species sensitivity distribution (SSD), critical study approach (CSA) and toxicity percentile rank method (TPRM). The TRGs and TRVs arrived at by using these methods were 42.3, I 0. 7, 4.3 pg TEQs/g diet wm and 16.7, 15.5, and 5.5 pg TEQs/g tissue wm for the CSA SSD and TPRM approaches, respectively. These criteria values were analyzed and compared with those derived by others. The following TRG and TRY, derived by SSD, were recommended as avian criteria for protecting avian species in China: 10.7 pg TEQs/g diet wm and 15.5 pg TEQs/g tissue wm, respectively. The hazard of PCBs to birds was assessed by comparing the TRVs and TRGs derived in this study with actual PCB concentrations detected in birds or fish. The criteria values derived in this study can be used to evaluate the risk of PCBs to birds in China, and to provide indices that are more reasonable for protecting Chinese avian species. However, several sources of uncertainty exists when deriving TRGs and TRVs for the PCBs in birds, such as lack of adequate toxicity data for birds and need to use uncertainty factors. Clearly, relevant work on PCBs and birds in China are needed in the future. For example, PCB toxicity data for resident avian species in China are needed. In addition, studies are needed on the actual PCB levels in birds and fish in China. Such information is needed to serve as a more firm foundation for future risk assessments.

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