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Toxicity of hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls (HO-PCBs) using the bioluminescent assay Microtox®

Bhalla, Renu, Tehrani, Rouzbeh, Van Aken, Benoit
Ecotoxicology 2016 v.25 no.7 pp. 1438-1444
bioavailability, bioluminescence, chlorination, chlorine, hydrophobicity, oxidation, polychlorinated biphenyls, solubility, toxicity
Hydroxylated polychlorinated biphenyls (HO-PCBs) are toxic contaminants which are produced in the environment by biological or abiotic oxidation of PCBs. The toxicity of a suite of 23 mono-hydroxylated derivatives of PCBs and 12 parent PCBs was determined using the bacterial bioluminescent assay Microtox®. All HO-PCBs tested exhibited higher toxicity than the corresponding parent PCB, with effect concentration 50 % (EC₅₀) ranging from 0.07 to 133 mg L⁻¹. The highest toxicities were recorded with 4-hydroxylated derivatives of di-chlorinated biphenyls (EC₅₀ = 0.07–0.36 mg L⁻¹) and 2-hydroxylated derivatives of tri-chlorinated biphenyls carrying a chlorine substituent on the phenolic ring (EC₅₀ = 0.34–0.48 mg L⁻¹). The toxicity of HO-PCBs generally decreased when the degree of chlorination increased. Consistently with this observation, a significant positive correlation was measured between toxicity (measured by EC₅₀) and octanol–water partition coefficient (pK ₒw) for the HO-PCBs under study (Pearson’s correlation coefficient, r = 0.74), which may be explained by the lower solubility and bioavailability generally associated with higher hydrophobicity. This study is the first one which assessed the toxicity of a suite of PCBs and HO-PCBs using the bioluminescent assay Microtox®, showing an inverse correlation between toxicity and hydrophobicity.