Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Display All Information

Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 1077
Title: A Perspective on the Toxicity of Petrogenic PAHs to Developing Fish Embryos Related to Environmental Chemistry
Author: M. G. Carls, J. P. Meador
Publication Year: 2009
Volume: 15
Issue: 6
Pages: 1084-1098
Keywords: polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), microbial metabolites, toxicity, toxicity assessment model.
Abstract: Numerous studies demonstrate polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) dissolved from weathered crude oil adversely affect fish embryos at 0.5 to 23 ¼g/l. This conclusion has been challenged by studies that claim (1) much lower toxicity of weathered aqueous PAHs; (2) direct contact with dispersed oil droplets plays a significant role or is required for toxicity; (3) that uncontrolled factors (oxygen, ammonia, and sulfides) contribute substantively to toxicity; (4) polar compounds produced by microbial metabolism are the major cause of observed toxicity; and (5) that based on equilibrium models and toxic potential, water contaminated with weathered oil cannot be more toxic per unit mass than effluent contaminated with fresh oil. In contrast, several studies demonstrate high toxicity of weathered oil; shifts in PAH composition were consistent with dissolution (not particle ablation), embryos accumulated dissolved PAHs at low concentrations and were damaged, and assumed confounding factors were inconsequential. Consistent with previous empirical observations of mortality and weathering, temporal shifts in PAH composition (oil weathering) indicate that PAHs dissolved in water should (and do) become more toxic per unit mass with weathering because high molecular weight PAHs are more persistent and toxic than the more abundant low molecular weight PAHs in whole oil.