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Environ Pollut. 2007 Jul;148(1):73-82. Epub 2007 Feb 8.

Modelling PCB bioaccumulation in a Baltic food web.

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Department of Applied Environmental Science, Unit for Environmental Toxicology and Environmental Chemistry, Frescativägen 50, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.


A steady state model is developed to describe the bioaccumulation of organic contaminants by 14 species in a Baltic food web including pelagic and benthic aquatic organisms. The model is used to study the bioaccumulation of five PCB congeners of different chlorination levels. The model predictions are evaluated against monitoring data for five of the species in the food web. Predicted concentrations are on average within a factor of two of measured concentrations. The model shows that all PCB congeners were biomagnified in the food web, which is consistent with observations. Sensitivity analysis reveals that the single most sensitive parameter is log K(OW). The most sensitive environmental parameter is the annual average temperature. Although not identified amongst the most sensitive input parameters, the dissolved concentration in water is believed to be important because of the uncertainty in its determination. The most sensitive organism-specific input parameters are the fractional respiration of species from the water column and sediment pore water, which are also difficult to determine. Parameters such as feeding rate, growth rate and lipid content of organism are only important at higher trophic levels.

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