DDT Toxicity and Critical Body Residue in the Amphipod Leptocheirus plumulosus in Exposures to Spiked Sediment

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The lethal and sublethal toxicity of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) to the estuarine amphipod Leptocheirus plumulosus was determined using sediment spiked with 14C-labeled compound. Juvenile amphipods were exposed to concentrations up to 9.9 nmol/g dry weight (3.5 μg/g). Acute effects on survival were determined in a 10-day experiment. Chronic effects on survival, growth, and reproduction were assessed in a 28-day experiment. The DDT in the sediments transformed to dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (DDD), dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), and polar metabolites during the 14-day sediment storage prior to exposing the amphipods. The mixture of DDT and its breakdown products (tDDT) was comprised mostly of DDT at the beginning of the exposures. DDD was the prevalent compound at termination of the 28-day exposure. Complete mortality occurred at sediment concentrations of tDDT as low as 7 nmol/g (2.3 μg/g) in both acute and chronic experiments. Most of the mortality appeared to have occurred within the first 4 days of exposure. No sublethal reductions in growth or reproduction were observed in the 28-day experiment. In the 10-day experiment, where amphipods did not receive supplemental food, growth was significantly increased in DDT treatments where survival was not affected. The concentration of tDDT in amphipod tissues was determined at exposure termination. In the 10-day experiment, a mean body residue of 14 nmol/g wet weight was associated with significant mortality (30%). Lower critical body residues were observed in the 28-day experiment, where the median lethal tissue residue (LR50) was 7.6 (6.8–8.4, 95% confidence interval) nmol/g wet weight. Based on previous studies, the lethal critical body residue for L. plumulosus is similar to those determined for freshwater amphipods and substantially lower than those determined for cladocerans and polychaetes.