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Photoenhanced Toxicity of Weathered Crude Oil in Sediment and Water to Larval Zebrafish


Solar radiation exposure can increase the toxicity of bioaccumulated oil compounds in a diversity of aquatic species. We investigated the photoenhanced toxicity of weathered South Louisiana crude oil in sediment and water accommodated fractions (WAF) to larval zebrafish. Larvae were first exposed for 24 h to one of six treatments: no oil (sediment or water), 7.5 g oil/kg sediment, oil-only WAF, oil WAF plus the dispersant Corexit 9500A, or dispersant alone. Larvae were then exposed to high or low levels of sunlight in control water for 3 or 3.5 h. Hydrocarbon concentrations were measured in exposure media, including alkanes, polycyclic aromatic compounds and total petroleum hydrocarbons. Significant phototoxicity was observed in larvae exposed to oiled sediment, oil-only WAF, and oil plus dispersant WAF. The results indicated that petroleum from the northern Gulf of Mexico can be phototoxic to larval fish exposed to oil in either the water column or sediment.

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We thank Becky Hemmer for technical assistance, ALS Global (Life Sciences, Environmental) for chemical analyses, and Morgan Willming for review of a draft of the manuscript. The conclusions may not necessarily reflect the views of the EPA and no official endorsement should be inferred. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Correspondence to Mace G. Barron.

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Barron, M.G., Krzykwa, J., Lilavois, C.R. et al. Photoenhanced Toxicity of Weathered Crude Oil in Sediment and Water to Larval Zebrafish. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 100, 49–53 (2018).

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  • Oil
  • Zebrafish
  • Photoenhanced toxicity
  • Sediment