Equilibrium sampling of environmental pollutants in fish: Comparison with lipid-normalized concentrations and homogenization effects on chemical activity



Equilibrium sampling of organic pollutants into the silicone polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) has recently been applied in biological tissues including fish. Pollutant concentrations in PDMS can then be multiplied with lipid/PDMS distribution coefficients (DLipid,PDMS) to obtain concentrations in fish lipids. In the present study, PDMS thin films were used for equilibrium sampling of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in intact tissue of two eels and one salmon. A classical exhaustive extraction technique to determine lipid-normalized PCB concentrations, which assigns the body burden of the chemical to the lipid fraction of the fish, was additionally applied. Lipid-based PCB concentrations obtained by equilibrium sampling were 85 to 106% (Norwegian Atlantic salmon), 108 to 128% (Baltic Sea eel), and 51 to 83% (Finnish lake eel) of those determined using total extraction. This supports the validity of the equilibrium sampling technique, while at the same time confirming that the fugacity capacity of these lipid-rich tissues for PCBs was dominated by the lipid fraction. Equilibrium sampling was also applied to homogenates of the same fish tissues. The PCB concentrations in the PDMS were 1.2 to 2.0 times higher in the homogenates (statistically significant in 18 of 21 cases, p < 0.05), indicating that homogenization increased the chemical activity of the PCBs and decreased the fugacity capacity of the tissue. This observation has implications for equilibrium sampling and partition coefficients determined using tissue homogenates. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011; 30:1515–1521. © 2011 SETAC