Comparison of the Toxicity Using Body Residues of DDE and Select PCB Congeners to the Midge, Chironomus riparius, in Partial-Life Cycle Tests

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Due to the long time course required to achieve steady state with highly lipophilic contaminants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), data derived from short-term toxicity tests may lead to an erroneous interpretation of hazard. In addition, PCBs bioaccumulated over time can cause sublethal impairments in organisms at concentrations much lower than required for mortality. Here, the body residues of 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis-p-chlorophenyl ethane (DDE) and select PCB congeners associated with a spectrum of chronic effects in the midge, Chironomus riparius, were evaluated. The route of exposure was ingestion of the PCB-contaminated alga, Chlorella vulgarus, and trout chow loaded with the selected test compound. Two separate exposures of midges were performed. In the first experiment, midges were exposed from the second instar to the pupal stage. In the second exposure, midges were exposed from the second instar to the adult stage. A variety of sublethal endpoints was monitored, including developmental time within a stadium, body weight, and fecundity for the female adult. The dose was assessed as the whole body residue concentration of the contaminant. Overall, the midge concentration increased with increasing exposure concentration in algae and trout chow. Body weight at the end of each stadium was the assessment parameter that was least significantly affected among the test endpoints monitored. In contrast, a significant increase in development time was the endpoint that was most frequently observed in response to contaminant exposure. Reduction in fecundity was found only for DDE-exposed midges. These data, in which chronic endpoints are related to body residues, suggest that body residues will be useful in defining sublethal hazards of DDE and some PCB congeners.