Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 364-370

First online:

Bioaccumulation of Benzo(a)pyrene from Sediment by Fathead Minnows: Effects of Organic Content, Resuspension and Metabolism

  • J. F. McCarthyAffiliated withDepartment of Geological Sciences, University of Tennessee, 306 Geology Building, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-1410
  • , L. W. BurrusAffiliated withDepartment of Developmental Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California
  • , V. R. TolbertAffiliated withEnvironmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

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The accumulation of 14C-benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) sorbed to sediment was examined in fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) to compare uptake from sediment with a high organic carbon (OC) content (7.7%), to that with a low OC content (2%). Ingestion of sediments was quantified by co-labeling the sediment with 141Cerium, which was not assimilated by the fish. Results of this study indicated that (1) significantly greater quantities of BaP were dissolved in water over low-OC sediment, compared to water over high-OC sediment, (2) fish disturbed the sediment and increased the concentration of BaP in centrifuged (particle-free) water, (3) fish ingested significantly more of the low-OC sediment than high-OC sediment, perhaps in response to the lower food quality of the low-OC sediment, and (4) uptake of BaP from sediment ingestion contributed <3% of the total flux of BaP into the fish. Primarily as a result of the greater concentration of BaP in water, fish from the low-OC exposures had significantly higher rates of BaP accumulation. However, after 48 h the body burdens in these fish declined by 50%, likely due to the induction of MFO enzymes in response to accumulation of BaP. A smaller effect was apparent in the fish from the high-OC exposures, consistent with the lower dose of BaP they experienced. These results illustrate the complex, and sometime counterintuitive, interactions that affect the uptake and bioaccumulation of sediment-associated contaminants.