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Keywords:

  • Ionogenic organic chemicals;
  • Bioconcentration factor;
  • Mechanistic model;
  • Phospholipids;
  • Perfluoroalkyl acids

Abstract

A mechanistic mass balance bioconcentration model is developed and parameterized for ionogenic organic chemicals (IOCs) in fish and evaluated against a compilation of empirical bioconcentration factors (BCFs). The model is subsequently applied to a set of perfluoroalkyl acids. Key aspects of model development include revised methods to estimate the chemical absorption efficiency of IOCs at the respiratory surface (EW) and the use of distribution ratios to characterize the overall sorption capacity of the organism. Membrane–water distribution ratios (DMW) are used to characterize sorption to phospholipids instead of only considering the octanol–water distribution ratio (DOW). Modeled BCFs are well correlated with the observations (e.g., r2 = 0.68 and 0.75 for organic acids and bases, respectively) and accurate to within a factor of three on average. Model prediction errors appear to be largely the result of uncertainties in the biotransformation rate constant (kM) estimates and the generic approaches for estimating sorption capacity (e.g., DMW). Model performance for the set of perfluoroalkyl acids considered is highly dependent on the input parameters describing hydrophobicity (i.e., log KOW of the neutral form). The model applications broadly support the hypothesis that phospholipids contribute substantially to the sorption capacity of fish, particularly for compounds that exhibit a high degree of ionization at biologically relevant pH. Additional empirical data on biotransformation and sorption to phospholipids and subsequent incorporation into property estimation approaches (e.g., kM, DMW) are priorities with respect to improving model performance. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2013;32:115–128. © 2012 SETAC