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Chemosphere. 2002 Jun;47(10):1049-57.

Bioconcentration of n-dodecane and its highly branched isomer 2,2,4,6,6-pentamethylheptane in fathead minnows.

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  • 1Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


Petroleum products are complex mixtures of hydrocarbons. They are important as constituents of fuels and lubricants, and as key raw materials for the chemicals industry. Since there is a potential for accidental releases to the aquatic environment, bioaccumulation of higher hydrocarbons is of concern. Here, the bioconcentration behaviour of two representative hydrocarbons, the dodecane isomers n-dodecane and 2,2,4,6,6-pentamethylheptane (PMH), was investigated in fathead minnows at concentrations in water below their maximum aqueous solubility. The concentration of n-dodecane in fish did not exceed our method limit of detection of 60 microg/kg. In contrast, PMH could be quantified in fish. No significant increase in the ratio of PMH concentrations in fish to water could be detected indicating that an exposure time of 4-10 days is sufficient to approach steady-state. For n-dodecane the upper limit of the bioconcentration factor (BCF) is estimated by dividing the method limit of detection by the exposure concentration and a value of 240 l/kg is derived. For PMH the bioconcentration factor, estimated as the average fish/water concentration ratio during the steady-state part of the experiment, ranges between 880 and 3,500 l/kg. The BCFs of both compounds are small compared to their hydrophobicity. Given that both linear and branched hydrocarbons are known to be biotransformed by fish, it appears that efficient metabolism of the test compounds in fathead minnows prevents bioaccumulation.

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