First in a special series: Analysis of the impact of papers published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry over the past 30 years—an overview and coming attractions


The Publications Advisory Committee (PAC) within the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) is involved in several activities related to SETAC publications, including books, the Globe (society newsletter) and, of course, the two society-sponsored journals, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (ET&C) and Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM). One of the PAC's tasks is to increase the visibility of the journals both to Society membership and the broader scientific community. One way to do this, for example, is to assess the impacts of their content on science and regulation in the field of environmental sciences.

A common metric of journal impact in social, physical, and biological sciences is the Impact Factor (IF). The IF, calculated annually for a journal, is defined as the total number of indexed citations to papers a journal has published over the prior two years, divided by the total number of papers published by that journal during that same period. The current IF for ET&C is about 3. An IF is not available for IEAM because the journal is not yet indexed. The IF has become an increasingly important determinant of where authors publish their work; hence, it is highly linked with journal visibility. Although the IF can provide important insights, using this metric in isolation to judge the impact of a journal is limited. For example, due to the relatively slow pace of change in regulatory procedures/activities in response to new science, highly applied papers in environmental toxicology and chemistry might be prone to delayed acknowledgments in terms of significant citations, which would not be captured by use measurements, such as the IF, which are focused on the shorter term.

To help address the challenge of assessing the long-term impact of ET&C publications, the PAC recently analyzed the citations of all papers published in the journal since its inception in 1982. The analysis used the Thompson-Reuters Web of Science database and software. Over the course of its 30-year history, ET&C has published a total of 7,674 indexed (citable) papers as of February 2012 when the analysis was conducted. The top 100 cited papers from that analysis (actually 102 papers—the 100th position was a tie) are listed in Table 1. Notably, all papers had been cited more than 100 times, ranging from 117 citations for papers published by Nebeker et al. (1; toxicity test methods for sediments), Meylan et al. (2; predicting water solubility of chemicals), and Arukwe et al. (3; effects of nonylphenol on Atlantic salmon) to a manuscript by Jobling et al. (4; concerning estrogenicity of nonylphenol in fish), which had been cited 818 times. This top 100 list spans a substantial time period, featuring two papers from as early as 1984 (Nebeker et al. 1 and Mount and Norberg 5, which are arguably “classics” in the areas of sediment and effluent test methods, respectively), to a comparatively recent review (2008) on nanomaterials by Klaine et al. 6. Perusing the topical content of the top 100 papers reveals a broad range of topics have been covered in environmental chemistry, toxicology, and risk assessment, with authors from several countries in North America and Europe represented. Not unexpectedly, the authors of many of the papers are highly accomplished scientists in their fields.

Table 1. Ranking by citation frequency of the top 100 (102) papers published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
RankTitleAuthorsPublication yearVolumePagesTotal citations
1Inhibition of testicular growth in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) exposed to estrogenic alkylphenolic chemicalsJobling S, Sheahan D, Osborne JA, Matthiessen P, Sumpter JP199615194–202818
2Estrogenic activity of surfactants and some of their degradation products assessed using a recombinant yeast screenRoutledge EJ, Sumpter JP199615241–248752
3Technical basis for establishing sediment quality criteria for nonionic organic-chemicals using equilibrium partitioningDi Toro DM, Zarba CS, Hansen DJ, Berry WJ, Swartz RC, Cowan CE, Pavlou SP, Allen HE, Thomas NA, Paquin PR1991101541–1583727
4Ecological risk assessment of atrazine in North American surface watersSolomon KR, Baker DB, Richards RP, Dixon DR, Klaine SJ, LaPoint TW, Kendall RJ, Weisskopf CP, Giddings JM, Giesy JP, Hall LW, Williams WM19961531–74461
5Biotic ligand model of the acute toxicity of metals. 1. Technical basisDi Toro DM, Allen HE, Bergman HL, Meyer JS, Paquin PR, Santore RC2001202383–2396423
6Toxicity of cadmium in sediments: The role of acid volatile sulfideDi Toro DM, Mahony JD, Hansen DJ, Scott KJ, Hicks MB, Mayr SM, Redmond MS199091487–1502392
7Estrogenic activity in five United Kingdom rivers detected by measurement of vitellogenesis in caged male troutHarries JE, Sheahan DA, Jobling S, Matthiessen P, Neall M, Sumpter JP, Taylor T, Zaman N199716534–542390
8Critical appraisal of the evidence for tributyltin-mediated endocrine disruption in mollusksMatthiessen P, Gibbs PE19981737–43321
9Groundwater ubiquity score: A simple method for assessing pesticide leachabilityGustafson DI19898339–357304
10Predicting modes of toxic action from chemical structure: Acute toxicity in the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)Russom CL, Bradbury SP, Broderius SJ, Hammermeister DE, Drummond RA199716948–967290
11Determination of octanol water partition-coefficients for hydrophobic organic-chemicals with the slow-stirring methodDebruijn J, Busser F, Seinen W, Hermens J19898499–512282
12Effects of the synthetic estrogen 17 alpha-ethinylestradiol on the life-cycle of the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)Lange R, Hutchinson TH, Croudace CP, Siegmund F, Schweinfurth H, Hampe P, Panter GH, Sumpter JP2001201216–1227281
13A survey of estrogenic activity in United Kingdom inland watersHarries JE, Sheahan DA, Jobling S, Matthiessen P, Neall P, Routledge EJ, Rycroft R, Sumpter JP, Tylor T1996151993–2002264
14Degradation of azo dyes by environmental microorganisms and helminthsChung KT, Stevens SE1993122121–2132261
15Estrogenic potency of chemicals detected in sewage treatment plant effluents as determined by in vivo assays with Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes)Metcalfe CD, Metcalfe TL, Kiparissis Y, Koenig BG, Khan C, Hughes RJ, Croley TR, March RE, Potter T200120297–308259
16Biochemical responses in aquatic animals: A review of determinants of oxidative stressDigiulio RT, Washburn PC, Wenning RJ, Winston GW, Jewell CS198981103–1123252
17Sorption dynamics of hydrophobic pollutants in sediment suspensionsKarickhoff SW, Morris KR19854469–479251
18Nanomaterials in the environment: Behavior, fate, bioavailability, and effectsKlaine SJ, Alvarez PJJ, Batley GE, Fernandes TF, Handy RD, Lyon DY, Mahendra S, McLaughlin MJ, Lead JR2008271825–1851249
19Induction of testis-ova in Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) exposed to p-nonylphenolGray MA, Metcalfe CD1997161082–1086248
20Analysis of acid-volatile sulfide (AVS) and simultaneously extracted metals (SEM) for the estimation of potential toxicity in aquatic sedimentsAllen HE, Fu GM, Deng BL1993121441–1453246
21 (A)Predicting toxicity in marine sediments with numerical sediment quality guidelinesLong ER, Field LJ, MacDonald DD199817714–727236
21 (B)Principal response curves: Analysis of time-dependent multivariate responses of biological community to stressVan den Brink PJ, Ter Braak CJF199918138–148236
23Overview of a workshop on screening methods for detecting potential (anti-) estrogenic/androgenic chemicals in wildlifeAnkley G, Mihaich E, Stahl R, Tillitt D, Colborn T, McMaster S, Miller R, Bantle J, Campbell P, Denslow N, Dickerson R, Folmar L, Fry M, Giesy J, Gray LE, Guiney P, Hutchinson T, Kennedy S, Kramer V, LeBlanc G, Mayes M, Nimrod A, Patino R, Peterson R, Purdy R, Ringer R, Thomas P, Touart L, Van der Kraak G, Zacharewski T19981768–87225
24Environmental factors affecting the formation of methylmercury in low pH lakesWinfrey MR, Rudd JWM19909853–869221
25Biotic ligand model of the acute toxicity of metals. 2. Application to acute copper toxicity in freshwater fish and DaphniaSantore RC, Di Toro DM, Paquin PR, Allen HE, Meyer JS2001202397–2402218
26Polybrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclododecane in sediment and fish from a Swedish riverSellstrom U, Kierkegaard A, de Wit C, Jansson B1998171065–1072215
27Bioconcentration and tissue distribution of perfluorinated acids in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)Martin JW, Mabury SA, Solomon KR, Muir DCG200322196–204212
28Assimilation efficiencies of chemical contaminants in aquatic invertebrates: A synthesisWang WX, Fisher NS1999182034–2045208
29Effects of mercury on wildlife: A comprehensive reviewWolfe MF, Schwarzbach S, Sulaiman RA199817146–160207
30Factors affecting mercury accumulation in fish in the upper Michigan peninsulaGrieb TM, Driscoll CT, Gloss SP, Schofield CL, Bowie GL, Porcella DB19909919–930203
31Acetylcholinesterase inhibition in estuarine fish and invertebrates as an indicator of organophosphorus insecticide exposure and effectsFulton MH, Key PB20012037–45198
32Technical basis and proposal for deriving sediment quality criteria for metalsAnkley GT, DiToro DM, Hansen DJ, Berry WJ1996152056–2066197
33The effects of water chemistry on the toxicity of copper to fathead minnowsErickson RJ, Benoit DA, Mattson VR, Nelson HP, Leonard EN199615181–193193
34Distribution of acidic and neutral drugs in surface waters near sewage treatment plants in the lower Great Lakes, CanadaMetcalfe CD, Miao XS, Koenig BG, Struger J2003222881–2889192
35Dietary accumulation and depuration of hydrophobic organochlorines: Bioaccumulation parameters and their relationship with the octanol/water partition coefficientFisk AT, Norstrom RJ, Cymbalisty CD, Muir DCG199817951–961191
36Survey of estrogenic activity in United Kingdom estuarine and coastal waters and its effects on gonadal development of the flounder Platichthys flesusAllen Y, Scott AP, Matthiessen P, Haworth S, Thain JE, Feist S1999181791–1800189
37An equilibrium model of organic-chemical accumulation in aquatic food webs with sediment interactionThomann RV, Connolly JP, Parkerton TF199211615–629188
38Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in sediments and mussels of the western Mediterranean seaBaumard P, Budzinski H, Garrigues P199817765–776186
39Assessing the toxicity of freshwater sedimentsBurton GA1991101585–1627185
40Description and evaluation of a short-term reproduction test with the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)Ankley GT, Jensen KM, Kahl MD, Korte JJ, Makynen EA2001201276–1290184
41Daphnia magna mortality when exposed to titanium dioxide and fullerene (C-60) nanoparticlesLovern SB, Klaper R2006251132–1137183
42 (A)Toxicokinetics in aquatic systems: Model comparisons and use in hazard assessmentLandrum PF, Lee H, Lydy MJ1992111709–1725181
42 (B)Analysis of estrogenic hormones in municipal wastewater effluent and surface water using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and gas chromatography/tandem mass spectrometryHuang CH, Sedlak DL200120133–139181
44Survey of receiving-water environmental impacts associated with discharges from pulp-mills: 2. Gonad size, liver size, hepatic erod activity and plasma sex steroid levels in white suckerMunkittrick KR, Vanderkraak GJ, McMaster ME, Portt CB, Vandenheuvel MR, Servos MR1994131089–1101180
45Desorption kinetics of chlorobenzenes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and polychlorinated biphenyls: Sediment extraction with Tenax® and effects of contact time and solute hydrophobicityCornelissen G, vanNoort PCM, Govers HAJ1997161351–1357179
46Is the per capita rate of increase a good measure of population-level effects in ecotoxicology?Forbes VE, Calow P1999181544–1556178
47Bioaccumulation and toxicity of silver compounds: A reviewRatte HT19991889–108176
48Aquatic toxicity testing using the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegansWilliams PL, Dusenbery DB199091285–1290173
49Dynamics of organochlorine compounds in herring gulls: 3. Tissue distribution and bioaccumulation in Lake Ontario gullsBraune BM, Norstrom RJ19898957–968167
50Polychlorinated biphenyl residues and egg mortality in double-crested cormorants from the Great LakesTillitt DE, Ankley GT, Giesy JP, Ludwig JP, Kuritamatsuba H, Weseloh DV, Ross PS, Bishop CA, Sileo L, Stromborg KL, Larson J, Kubiak TJ1992111281–1288160
51 (A)Slowly reversible sorption of aliphatic halocarbons in soils. 1. Formation of residual fractionsPignatello JJ199091107–1115158
51 (B)The potential for estradiol and ethinylestradiol degradation in English riversJurgens MD, Holthaus KIE, Johnson AC, Smith JJL, Hetheridge M, Williams RJ200221480–488158
53Predictive models for photoinduced acute toxicity of polycyclic aromatic-hydrocarbons to Daphnia magna, Strauss (cladocera, crustacea)Newsted JL, Giesy JP19876445–461156
54 (A)Predicting the bioavailability of organic xenobiotics to Pontoporeia hoyi in the presence of humic and fulvic materials and natural dissolved organic matterLandrum PF, Reinhold MD, Nihart SR, Eadie BJ19854459–467155
54 (B)An in vivo testing system for endocrine disruptors in fish early life stages using induction of vitellogeninTyler CR, van Aerle R, Hutchinson TH, Maddix S, Trip H199918337–347155
56 (A)Chlorinated and brominated persistent organic compounds in biological samples from the environmentJansson B, Andersson R, Asplund L, Litzen K, Nylund K, Sellstrom U, Uvemo UB, Wahlberg C, Wideqvist U, Odsjo T, Olsson M1993121163–1174153
56 (B)Predictability of the toxicity of multiple chemical mixtures to Vibrio fischeri: Mixtures composed of similarly acting chemicalsAltenburger R, Backhaus T, Boedeker W, Faust M, Scholze M, Grimme LH2000192341–2347153
58Environmental dechlorination of PCBsBrown JF, Wagner RE, Feng H, Bedard DL, Brennan MJ, Carnahan JC, May RJ19876579–593152
59Bioindicators of contaminant exposure and sublethal effects: Studies with benthic fish in Puget Sounds, WashingtonStein JE, Collier TK, Reichert WL, Casillas E, Hom T, Varanasi U199211701–714151
60Fish reproduction: An ecologically relevant indicator of endocrine disruptionArcand-Hoy LD, Benson WH19981749–57149
61 (A)A seven-day life-cycle cladoceran toxicity testMount DI, Norberg TJ19843425–434147
61 (B)Rapid assessment of induced cytochrome P4501A protein and catalytic activity in fish hepatoma cells grown in multiwell plates: Response to TCDD, TCDF, and two planar PCBSHahn ME, Woodward BL, Stegeman JJ, Kennedy SW199615582–591147
63Bioaccumulation of PCBs by algae: Kinetics versus equilibriumSwackhamer DL, Skoglund RS199312831–838146
64Pesticides and amphibian population declines in California, USASparling DW, Fellers GM, McConnell LL2001201591–1595144
65A critique of ecosystem health concepts and indexesSuter GW1993121533–1539143
66 (A)Response of hepatic MFO activity and plasma sex steroids to secondary treatment of bleached kraft pulp mill effluent and mill shutdownMunkittrick KR, Vanderkraak GJ, McMaster ME, Portt CB1992111427–1439142
66 (B)Improved method for estimating bioconcentration/bioaccumulation factor from octanol/water partition coefficientMeylan WM, Howard PH, Boethling RS, Aronson D, Printup H, Gouchie S199918664–672142
66 (C)Assessing sediment contamination in estuariesChapman PM, Wang FY2001203–22142
66 (D)Occurrence of neutral and acidic drugs in the effluents of Canadian sewage treatment plantsMetcalfe CD, Koenig BG, Bennie DT, Servos M, Ternes TA, Hirsch R2003222872–2880142
70Review of the environmental behavior and fate of methyl tert-butyl etherSquillace PJ, Pankow JF, Korte NE, Zogorski JS1997161836–1844141
71 (A)Calibrating the uptake kinetics of semipermeable membrane devices using exposure standardsBooij K, Sleiderink HM, Smedes F1998171236–1245140
71 (B)Aquatic toxicity of triclosanOrvos DR, Versteeg DJ, Inauen J, Capdevielle M, Rothenstein A, Cunningham V2002211338–1349140
71 (C)Dietary accumulation of perfluorinated acids in juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)Martin JW, Mabury SA, Solomon KR, Muir DCG200322189–195140
74Reduction in bioavailability to bluegills of polycyclic aromatic-hydrocarbons bound to dissolved humic materialMcCarthy JF, Jimenez BD19854511–521138
75Measurement of triclosan in wastewater treatment systemsMcAvoy DC, Schatowitz B, Jacob M, Hauk A, Eckhoff WS2002211323–1329137
76Reduction in bioavailability of organic contaminants to the amphipod Pontoporeia hoyi by dissolved organic matter of sediment interstitial watersLandrum PF, Nihart SR, Eadie BJ, Herche LR1987611–20135
77Development of a passive, in situ, integrative sampler for hydrophilic organic contaminants in aquatic environmentsAlvarez DA, Petty JD, Huckins JN, Jones-Lepp TL, Getting DT, Goddard JP, Manahan SE2004231640–1648133
78 (A)Predictability of the toxicity of a multiple mixture of dissimilarly acting chemicals to Vibrio fischeriBackhaus T, Altenburger R, Boedeker W, Faust M, Scholze M, Grimme LH2000192348–2356131
78 (B)Effects of the androgenic growth promoter 17-β-trenbolone on fecundity and reproductive endocrinology of the fathead minnowAnkley GT, Jensen KM, Makynen EA, Kahl MD, Korte JJ, Hornung MW, Henry TR, Denny JS, Leino RL, Wilson VS, Cardon MC, Hartig PC, Gray LE2003221350–1360131
78 (C)Assessing the long-range transport potential of polybrominated diphenyl ethers: A comparison of four multimedia modelsWania F, Dugani CB2003221252–1261131
81Endocrine disruptors in sewage treatment plants, receiving river waters, and sediments: Integration of chemical analysis and biological effects on feral carpPetrovic M, Sole M, de Alda MJL, Barcelo D2002212146–2156130
82Substances with estrogenic activity in effluents of sewage treatment plants in southwestern Germany. 1. Chemical analysisSpengler P, Korner W, Metzger JW2001202133–2141129
83 (A)Sigma-PAH: A model to predict the toxicity of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon mixtures in field-collected sedimentsSwartz RC, Schults DW, Ozretich RJ, Lamberson JO, Cole FA, Dewitt TH, Redmond MS, Ferraro SP1995141977–1987128
83 (B)Factors affecting sequestration and bioavailability of phenanthrene in soilsWhite JC, Kelsey JW, Hatzinger PB, Alexander M1997162040–2045128
85 (A)Bond contribution method for estimating Henry's law constantsMeylan WM, Howard PH1991101283–1293127
85 (B)Declining bioavailability and inappropriate estimation of risk of persistent compoundsKelsey JW, Alexander M199716582–585127
87 (A)Reproduction in mallards fed seleniumHeinz GH, Hoffman DJ, Krynitsky AJ, Weller DMG19876423–433124
87 (B)Ecotoxicology of arsenic in the marine environmentNeff JM199716917–927124
87 (C)Acute and chronic toxicity of imidazolium-based ionic liquids on Daphnia magnaBernot RJ, Brueseke MA, Evans-White MA, Lamberti GA20052487–92124
90 (A)Bioaccumulation and biotransformation of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans in fishOpperhuizen A, Sijm DTHM19909175–186123
90 (B)Mercury cycling and effects in freshwater wetland ecosystemsZillioux EJ, Porcella DB, Benoit JM1993122245–2264123
90 (C)Time-dependent isotherm shape of organic compounds in soil organic matter: Implications for sorption mechanismXing BS, Pignatello JJ1996151282–1288123
93Pesticide concentration patterns in agricultural drainage networks in the Lake Erie basinRichards RP, Baker DB19931213–26121
94 (A)Swimming behavior as the indicator of sublethal toxicity in fishLittle EE, Finger SE1990913–19119
94 (B)Occurrence and fate of tributyltin compounds and triphenyltin compounds in western Mediterranean coastal enclosuresTolosa I, Merlini L, Debertrand N, Bayona JM, Albaiges J199211145–155119
94 (C)Sensitivity of fish embryos to weathered crude oil: Part I. Low-level exposure during incubation causes malformations, genetic damage, and mortality in larval Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi)Carls MG, Rice SD, Hose JE199918481–493119
94 (D)Effect of kinetics of complexation by humic acid on toxicity of copper to Ceriodaphnia dubiaMa HZ, Kim SD, Cha DK, Allen HE199918828–837119
98 (A)Effects of bleached kraft mill effluent on fish in the St. Maurice River, QuebecHodson PV, McWhirter M, Ralph K, Gray B, Thivierge D, Carey JH, Vanderkraak G, Whittle DM, Levesque MC1992111635–1651118
98 (B)Predicting the toxicity of metal-spiked laboratory sediments using acid-volatile sulfide and interstitial water normalizationsBerry WJ, Hansen DJ, Mahony JD, Robson DL, DiToro DM, Shipley BP, Rogers B, Corbin JM, Boothman WS1996152067–2079118
100 (A)Biological methods for determining toxicity of contaminated freshwater sediments to invertebratesNebeker AV, Cairns MA, Gakstatter JH, Malueg KW, Schuytema GS, Krawczyk DF19843617–630117
100 (B)Improved method for estimating water solubility from octanol water partition coefficientMeylan WM, Howard PH, Boethling RS199615100–106117
100 (C)Xenobiotic and steroid biotransformation enzymes in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) liver treated with an estrogenic compound, 4-nonylphenolArukwe A, Forlin L, Goksoyr A1997162576–2583117

Taken as a whole, the papers on the top 100 list are an excellent reflection of the high-visibility scientific and regulatory issues published over the past 30 years relative to evaluating the risk of wide-ranging inorganic and organic contaminants in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. It is impossible in this short editorial to address the significance and impacts of the individual papers and topical areas encompassed on the list. As such, we are implementing an innovative communication strategy to share some of this information with SETAC members and other environmental scientists. Specifically, we have asked prominent scientists involved with the work captured on the top 100 list to write short essays on the specific topic areas reflected in the highly-cited papers. For this effort, the PAC collated representative papers from the top 100 list into a manageable number of topical areas (24) as a basis for the essays. Examples of topical areas for which essays are being developed include: occurrence, causes, and significance of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment; chemical and biological approaches for assessing the effects of effluent or sediment-associated contaminants; advances in risk assessment practices; and detecting and evaluating contaminants of historical and emerging concern.

In the coming calendar year, ET&C will publish 24 essays derived from the top 100 analysis that the PAC conducted. These essays will describe the science/regulatory challenge the research/analysis sought to address, explain how the research/paper(s) met this challenge, account for the practical impacts of the papers on science and regulatory activities, and identify remaining uncertainties/future directions for the line of research described in the cited papers. In addition to being published in ET&C, the essays will be archived and readily available electronically; details on this portion of the effort are being finalized and will be communicated to Society membership in the near future. The PAC feels that developing and publishing the various essays derived from the list of top 100 papers will have the dual benefit of highlighting the impact of past ET&C publications and providing an important and unique historical accounting of high-impact environmental research conducted by scientists associated with SETAC. In addition, we feel that the essays will provide significant insights regarding evolving issues/needs within the field of environmental toxicology and chemistry. We hope that the society membership enjoys and benefits from this retrospective and prospective analysis.