John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Relationships between exposure and dose in aquatic toxicity tests for organic chemicals

There is continuing debate about the merits of exposure‐based toxicity metrics such as median lethal concentration (LC50) versus organism‐based metrics such as Critical Body Residue (CBR) as indicators of chemical toxicity to aquatic organisms. To demonstrate relationships and differences between these two metrics we apply a simple one‐compartment toxicokinetic mass‐balance model for water‐exposed fish for a series of hypothetical organic chemicals exhibiting baseline narcotic toxicity. We also consider the influence of several toxicity modifying factors. The results show that the results of standard toxicity tests, such as the LC50, are strongly influenced by several modifying factors including chemical and organism characteristics such as hydrophobicity, body size, lipid content, metabolic biotransformation and exposure durations. Consequently, reported LC50s may not represent consistent dose surrogates and may be inappropriate for comparing the relative toxicity of chemicals. For comparisons of toxicity between chemicals it is preferable to employ a delivered dose metric, such as the CBR. Reproducible toxicity data for a specific combination of chemical, exposure conditions and organism can only be obtained if the extent of approach to steady‐state is known. Suggestions are made for revisions in test protocols, including the use of models in advance of empirical testing, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of tests and reduce the confounding influences of toxicity modifying factors, especially exposure duration and metabolic biotransformation. This will assist in linking empirical measurements of LC50s and CBRs, two different but related indicators of aquatic toxicity and thereby improve understanding of the large existing database of aquatic toxicity test results. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2014 SETAC

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