Polychlorinated biphenyl tissue‐concentration thresholds for survival, growth, and reproduction in fish

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
By:  and 



Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have left a legacy of environmental contamination. Even though they were banned from production and active use in the 1970s, they persist in the environment and still have the potential to impact aquatic life. Our objective was to identify data from controlled laboratory studies of PCB‐related adverse effects in fish and to conduct a meta‐analysis on mortality, growth, and reproductive (MGR) threshold responses. For each endpoint type, we compiled data on the lowest‐observed‐adverse effect concentration (LOAEC) and the degree of effect at the LOAEC as a percentage of control. The LOAECs were expressed as tissue concentrations, so the term lowest‐observed‐adverse‐effect residue concentration (LOAER) was used to represent PCB exposures. The lower limit of applicability was set at 0.1 μg/g total PCB tissue concentration, below which adverse MGR effects in fish were not supported by the data. Sensitivity distributions identifying the probability of adverse effects in fish populations or communities predicted that 25% of fish species would be impacted between 0.1 and 7.5 μg/g. Concentration–response threshold regressions were developed from the MGR datasets. For example, a 1 μg/g total PCB tissue concentration would predict effects of 17% mortality, 15% growth, and 39% reproductive. The analysis determined the degree of adverse response, with uncertainty estimates, expected across a broad range of PCB tissue exposure concentrations in fish. Data generated from MGR endpoints were combined to determine an approach for overall effect thresholds for PCB‐related injury in fish. The MGR datasets included only laboratory data; however, responses were compared with field‐observed effects. The present review provides a comprehensive assessment of PCB‐induced injury in fish utilizing a data‐inclusive approach.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Polychlorinated biphenyl tissue‐concentration thresholds for survival, growth, and reproduction in fish
Series title Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
DOI 10.1002/etc.4335
Volume 38
Issue 4
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center
Description 25 p.
First page 712
Last page 736
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