Bioaccumulation of polycyclic aromatic compounds: 1. Bioconcentration in two marine species and in semipermeable membrane devices during chronic exposure to dispersed crude oil



Assessing the fate in marine biota of hydrocarbons derived from oil particles that are discharged during exploration and production is of relevant environmental concern. However, a rather complex experimental setup is required to carry out such investigations. In this study, a sophisticated tool, the continuous-flow system (CFS), was used to mimic dispersed oil exposure to marine biota. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) uptake was studied in two species, the blue mussel Mytilus edulis and juvenile of the turbot Scophthalmus maximus, and in semipermeable membrane devices (SPMD) exposed to crude oil dispersed in a flow-through system. After an exposure period of 8 to 21 d, elimination in organisms and devices was analyzed for 9 to 10 d following transfer to PAH-free seawater. Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed different PAH patterns. In mussel and SPMD, the PAH profiles were very close to that analyzed in seawater. Slight differences were, however, indicated for large molecules with log Kow above six. Nonachievement of steady-state concentration and bioavailability of PAH in oil droplets may account for these differences. The PAH composition in fish revealed only congeners with two to three aromatic rings. A combination of bioavailability and efficient metabolism of the larger PAH molecules may explain this pattern. The CFS made possible a better understanding of some critical factors governing bioconcentration in marine biota from dispersed oil. Yet the results illustrate that uptake of PAH from exposure to oil particles is complex and that different species may bioconcentrate different molecules depending on factors like life style and metabolic capability to degrade the potential harmful substances. Hence, risk assessment of the actual impact of discharges to marine biota should consider these essential biological and ecological factors.