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Keywords:

  • Dose–response;
  • Petroleum;
  • Mixtures;
  • Absorbed dose;
  • Fish embryos

Abstract

This theoretical and case study review of dynamic exposures of aquatic organisms to organic contaminants examines variables important for interpreting exposure and therefore toxicity. The timing and magnitude of the absorbed dose change when the dynamics of exposure change. Thus, the dose metric for interpreting toxic responses observed during such exposure conditions is generally limited to the specific experiment and cannot be extrapolated to either other experiments with different exposure dynamics or to field exposures where exposure dynamics usually are different. This is particularly true for mixture exposures, for which the concentration and composition and, therefore, the timing and magnitude of exposure to individual components of different potency and potentially different mechanisms of action can vary. Aquatic toxicology needs studies that develop temporal thresholds for absorbed toxicant doses to allow for better extrapolation between conditions of dynamic exposure. Improved experimental designs are required that include high-quality temporal measures of both the exposure and the absorbed dose to allow better interpretation of data. For the short term, initial water concentration can be considered a conservative measure of exposure, although the extent to which this is true cannot be estimated specifically unless the dynamics of exposure as well as the toxicokinetics of the chemicals in the exposure scenario for the organism of interest are known. A better, but still limited, metric for interpreting the exposure and, therefore, toxicity is the peak absorbed dose, although this neglects toxicodynamics, requires appropriate temporal measures of accumulated dose to determine the peak concentration, and requires temporal thresholds for critical body residue for each component of the mixture. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2013; 9: 196–210. © 2012 SETAC