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Fish Cells in the Toxicological Evaluation of Environmental Contaminants

Surface Water Hydrology

  1. Leonard I. Sweet

Published Online: 15 APR 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.sw231

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Sweet, L. I. 2005. Fish Cells in the Toxicological Evaluation of Environmental Contaminants. Water Encyclopedia. 3:115–118.

Author Information

  1. Environmental Energy Group, Engineering Labs Inc., Canton, Michigan

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2005


Aquatic life at risk to modulation by environmental contaminants include fish and their organs, tissues, cells, and subcellular processes. Through branchial, dermal, and oral absorption, as well as biomagnification, it is highly probable that fish are exposed to many chemical species, their metabolites, and their mixtures (e.g., aromatic hydrocarbons, carbamates, heterocyclic compounds, heavy metals, organophosphates, and halogenated compounds). Sources of toxicant exposure include primary anthropogenic emissions, municipal and hazardous waste landfills, incinerators, episodic and diffuse loadings, as well as global secondary sources that involve complex cycling across air–water (e.g., deposition, rain, snow), sediment–water, and biotic interfaces (e.g., vegetation, fish, birds).

Environmental contaminants of concern require research into their accumulation potential, toxicological potency, and heath effects, because they can adversely affect aspects of fish life histories through direct effects (e.g., on developing eggs and larvae) or by more indirect means (e.g., immunosuppression, and enhanced skin and liver disease). Chemical contaminant exposure can interfere with critical phases of the cellular response by destroying, sensitizing, or otherwise altering the functions of cells.


  • ecotoxicology;
  • biomarkers;
  • fish;
  • chemical toxicants;
  • cellular stress;
  • in vitro