Toxicity of Hydrocarbons and Their Halogenated Derivatives in an Aqueous Environment

  • D. T. Boyles
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 16)


The interactions between hydrocarbons and halogenated hydrocarbons and biological tissues have frequently been shown to be physical rather than chemical in nature, i.e., the substances cause their effect purely by their molecular presence in some biophase. Even where a breakdown or oxidation product of these substances is known to be the active or main toxicant, the physical properties of the original compound may determine transport from the external environment to the site of toxic action within the biological tissue. Ferguson (1939) showed that equitoxic concentrations of physically acting chemicals had similar thermodynamic activity, which at equilibrium would be uniform throughout the various biophases. In simple terms this means that toxicity of physically acting substances occurs at similar degrees of aqueous saturation — the lower the water solubility the lower the effective concentration. The concept of equitoxicity at constant activity has been confirmed since by investigators working in widely diverse areas of toxicology.


Specific Growth Rate Helianthus Annuus Lipophilic Substance Electrolyte Loss Butyl Benzene 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. T. Boyles
    • 1
  1. 1.Biological Sciences Branch, New Technology DivisionBP Research CentreMiddlesexEngland

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