, Volume 10, Issue 6, pp 363-372

Single and Combined Effects of Sediment-Associated PAHs on Three Species of Freshwater Macroinvertebrates

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Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are ubiquitous pollutants of sediments. Sediment quality criteria often use toxicity data for individual PAHs. However, PAHs always occur in field sediments as a complex mixture of compounds. In this study, the toxicity of phenanthrene (P), fluoranthene (FLA) and benzo(k)fluoranthene (B), alone or in combination, was assessed using monospecific sediment tests of acute toxicity (between 24 h and 14 days). The test sediments were spiked formulated sediments. Toxicity of PAHs was determined on a freshwater pelagic organism, Daphnia magna, on an epibenthic organism, Hyalella azteca, and on a benthic organism, Chironomus riparius. The phototoxicity of fluoranthene and phenanthrene was verified. Benzo(k)fluoranthene was not phototoxic and presented no toxicity for the three organisms tested up to 300 mg/kg, concentration rarely found in the environment. For all PAHs, the toxicity towards Daphnia magna was two-fold higher in the sediment toxicity tests than in the water-only standard tests, probably due to suspended contaminated particles and contact of daphnids with sediment. For phenanthrene, the LC50s found were 50, 15 and 20 mg/kg dry weight sediment, respectively for Daphnia magna, Hyalella azteca and Chironomus riparius. The bioassays on fluoranthene yielded LC50s of 10, 5 and 15 mg/kg dw respectively for Daphnia magna, Hyalella azteca and Chironomus riparius. LC50s of the PAHs mixture (1/3 of each compound by weight) were around 10 mg/kg dry weight sediment for Hyalella azteca and 20 mg/kg for Chironomus riparius. The effects of PAHs in the mixture seemed to be synergistic. This study gives new data about PAH toxicity and showed that the additivity of PAH effects could be inadequate to assess the environmental risk.