Studies were conducted to determine the interactive toxicity of a water- accommodated fraction (WAF) of a weathered middle distillate petroleum and solar radiation to an estuarine organism, the tidewater silverside (Menidia beryllina). Juvenile silversides were monitored for survival and growth during a 7-d static renewal exposure to dilutions of WAFs of an environmentally weathered oil collected in the vicinity of an abandoned oil field in California. Ultraviolet (UV) treatments were based on incident sunlight intensity and spectra measured at this site. Exposure to UV alone was not lethal to the fish, and WAF in the absence of UV was toxic at the highest total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) concentration (3.03 mg/L) after 96 h of exposure. Water-accommodated fractions toxicity increased significantly with increasing UV irradiance and duration of exposure. The 7-d LC50 concentrations for the control, low, medium, and high irradiance were 2.84, 1.27, 0.93, and 0.51 mg/L TPH, respectively. Significant mortality occurred among fish previously exposed to WAF in the absence of irradiance, whereas WAF toxicity was unaffected by UV exposure prior to the toxicity test. Thus, the mode of action is a photosensitization of the accumulated petroleum residue rather than a photoactivation of WAF. Chemical analysis indicates that the WAF contains limited amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHS) known to be photoenhanced, suggesting that other constituents may be responsible for the observed photoenhanced toxicity.
Additional publication details
Assessment of the photoenhanced toxicity of a weathered oil to the tidewater silverside