Abstract Title:

Influence of a dispersant on the bioaccumulation of phenanthrene by topsmelt (Atherinops affinis).

Abstract Source:

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2005 May;61(1):44-52. PMID: 15814309

Abstract Author(s):

E E Mielbrecht, M F Wolfe, R S Tjeerdema, M L Sowby

Article Affiliation:

Department of Ocean Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.


Chemical dispersants enhance oil spill dispersion by forming water-accommodated micelles with oil droplets. However, how dispersants alter bioavailability and subsequent bioaccumulation of hydrocarbons is not well understood. Thus, the goal was to investigate the influence of a chemical dispersant on the disposition (uptake, biotransformation, and depuration) of a model hydrocarbon, [14C]-phenanthrene ([14C]PHN), by larval topsmelt (Atherinops affinis). Exposure was via aqueous-only or combined dietary and aqueous routes from a water-accommodated fraction (WAF) of Prudhoe Bay Crude Oil (PBCO) or a WAF of Corexit 9527-dispersed PBCO (DO). Trophic transfer was measured by incorporating into exposure media both a rotifer (Brachionus plicatilis) as food for the fish and a phytoplankton (Isochrysis galbana) as food for the rotifers. Short-term (4 h) bioconcentration of PHN was significantly decreased in topsmelt when oil was treated with dispersant (P<0.05), but differences diminished after 12 h. When trophic transfer was incorporated, PHN accumulation was initially delayed but after 12 h attained similar levels. Dispersant use also significantly decreased the proportion of biotransformed PHN (as 9-phenanthrylsulfate) produced by topsmelt (P<0.05). However, overall PHN depuration was not affected by dispersant use. Thus, chemical dispersant use in oil spill response may reduce short-term uptake but not long-term accumulation of hydrocarbons such as PHN in pelagic fish.

Study Type : Animal Study
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