Correlation between response of human cell line and distribution of sediment polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls on Palos Verdes Shelf, California, USA



Sections of a sediment core collected from Station 7C near the County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, California, USA, outfall were analyzed for total organic carbon (TOC), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In addition, the biological responses to extracts from the same samples were determined using the P450 reporter gene system (RGS) assay. The profiles of TOC, PAHs, and PCBs were consistent in illustrating the predischarge baseline and the effects of improving wastewater treatment. Induction of the CYP1A1 gene using P450 RGS was correlated with total PAHs (r2 = 0.47) and better correlated with the B[a]P toxic equivalency quotients (r2 = 0.63) calculated using toxic equivalency factors (TEFs) derived from P450 RGS analyses of individual high molecular weight (4 to 6 rings) PAHs. Results from short (6 h) and long (16 h) exposures using the RGS assay suggested that a portion of the induction was from the slower acting chlorinated hydrocarbons (coplanar PCBs, dioxins, furans, etc.). Coplanar PCBs in the amounts of 0.9 to 3.1 μg/g were found in three core sections analyzed; hence, the induction of RGS was likely produced by both PAHs and coplanar PCBs. Since dioxins and furans were not analyzed, their contributions to the RGS responses are unknown. The RGS assay may be used to screen samples for potential toxicological importance before conducting costly chemical analyses.