A multiple testing approach for hazard evaluation of complex mixtures in the aquatic environment: the use of diesel oil as a model

Environmental Pollution



Traditional single species toxicity tests and multiple component laboratory-scaled microcosm assays were combined to assess the toxicological hazard of diesel oil, a model complex mixture, to a model aquatic environment. The immediate impact of diesel oil dosed on a freshwater community was studied in a model pond microcosm over 14 days: a 7-day dosage and a 7-day recovery period. A multicomponent laboratory microcosm was designed to monitor the biological effects of diesel oil (1·0 mg litre−1) on four components: water, sediment (soil + microbiota), plants (aquatic macrophytes and algae), and animals (zooplanktonic and zoobenthic invertebrates). To determine the sensitivity of each part of the community to diesel oil contamination and how this model community recovered when the oil dissipated, limnological, toxicological, and microbiological variables were considered. Our model revealed these significant occurrences during the spill period: first, a community production and respiration perturbation, characterized in the water column by a decrease in dissolved oxygen and redox potential and a concomitant increase in alkalinity and conductivity; second, marked changes in microbiota of sediments that included bacterial heterotrophic dominance and a high heterotrophic index (0·6), increased bacterial productivity, and the marked increases in numbers of saprophytic bacteria (10 x) and bacterial oil degraders (1000 x); and third, column water acutely toxic (100% mortality) to two model taxa: Selenastrum capricornutum and Daphnia magna. Following the simulated clean-up procedure to remove the oil slick, the recovery period of this freshwater microcosm was characterized by a return to control values. This experimental design emphasized monitoring toxicological responses in aquatic microcosm; hence, we proposed the term ‘toxicosm’ to describe this approach to aquatic toxicological hazard evaluation. The toxicosm as a valuable toxicological tool for screening aquatic contaminants was demonstrated using diesel oil as a model complex mixture.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A multiple testing approach for hazard evaluation of complex mixtures in the aquatic environment: the use of diesel oil as a model
Series title Environmental Pollution
DOI 10.1016/0269-7491(89)90066-3
Volume 58
Issue 2-3
Year Published 1989
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 15 p.
First page 221
Last page 235
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