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Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Oct 15;35(20):4097-102.

Partition controlled delivery of hydrophobic substances in toxicity tests using poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) films.

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Fiber-Optic Environmental Sensors Group, School of Environmental Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Interpretation of toxicity test results may be hampered when doubt exists about the actual exposure concentration. Processes that are responsible for differences between the nominal and the actual concentration in aqueous test systems may include sorption, precipitation, volatilization, chemical and biological degradation, and uptake into biological or test tissue. In this study, the use of a poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) film containing the test compound is introduced as a versatile technique for partition controlled delivery of hydrophobic compounds to aqueous toxicity tests. Two methods developed produced preloaded films, having toxicant added to the PDMS prepolymer solution before film deposition and curing, and postloaded films, which are created by the addition of toxicant in a solvent to an already-polymerized PDMS film. Preloaded films were generally more easily prepared, may better accommodate larger molecules, and have a higher capacity than postloaded films. Postloaded films provided film-solution partition coefficients with higher precision and allowed for the use of films from stock and thus for a more portable technique. Chemical analysis showed that equilibrium between films and the aqueous solution was established within 7-10 min and was maintained for a suite of aromatic compounds (log Kow ranging from 2.8 to 6.1). The reliability of the film technique was demonstrated by application to the Microtox bacterial toxicity tests of solutions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

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