Trophic magnification of PCBs and its relationship to the octanol-water partition coefficient

Environmental Science & Technology
By: , and 



We investigated polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) bioaccumulation relative to octanol-water partition coefficient (KOW) and organism trophic position (TP) at the Lake Hartwell Superfund site (South Carolina). We measured PCBs (127 congeners) and stable isotopes (??15N) in sediment, organic matter, phytoplankton, zooplankton, macroinvertebrates, and fish. TP, as calculated from ??15N, was significantly, positively related to PCB concentrations, and food web trophic magnification factors (TMFs) ranged from 1.5-6.6 among congeners. TMFs of individual congeners increased strongly with log KOW, as did the predictive power (r2) of individual TP-PCB regression models used to calculate TMFs. We developed log KOW-TMF models for eight food webs with vastly different environments (freshwater, marine, arctic, temperate) and species composition (cold- vs warmblooded consumers). The effect of KOW on congener TMFs varied strongly across food webs (model slopes 0.0-15.0) because the range of TMFs among studies was also highly variable. We standardized TMFs within studies to mean = 0, standard deviation (SD) = 1 to normalize for scale differences and found a remarkably consistent KOW effect on TMFs (no difference in model slopes among food webs). Our findings underscore the importance of hydrophobicity (as characterized by KOW) in regulating bioaccumulation of recalcitrant compounds in aquatic systems, and demonstrate that relationships between chemical KOW and bioaccumulation from field studies are more generalized than previously recognized. ?? This article not subject to U.S. Copyright. Published 2011 by the American Chemical Society.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Trophic magnification of PCBs and its relationship to the octanol-water partition coefficient
Series title Environmental Science & Technology
DOI 10.1021/es103158s
Volume 45
Issue 9
Year Published 2011
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Environmental Science and Technology
First page 3917
Last page 3924
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