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Application and validation of isotope dilution method (IDM) for predicting bioavailability of hydrophobic organic contaminants in soil

Wang, Jie, Taylor, Allison, Schlenk, Daniel, Gan, Jay
Environmental pollution 2018 v.236 pp. 871-877
DDT (pesticide), Eisenia fetida, bioavailability, carbon, chemical concentration, desorption, digestive system, earthworms, hydrophobicity, isotope dilution technique, mixing, nontarget organisms, polychlorinated biphenyls, polyethylene, prediction, regression analysis, remediation, risk assessment, soil pollution, soil properties, solid phase microextraction, stable isotopes
Risk assessment of hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs) using the total chemical concentration following exhaustive extraction may overestimate the actual availability of HOCs to non-target organisms. Existing methods for estimating HOC bioavailability in soil have various operational limitations. In this study, we explored the application of isotope dilution method (IDM) to quantify the accessible fraction (E) of DDTs and PCBs in both historically-contaminated and freshly-spiked soils. After addition of 13C or deuterated analogues to a soil sample, the phase distribution of isotope-labeled and native chemicals reached an apparent equilibrium within 48 h of mixing. The derived E values in the three soils ranged from 0.19 to 0.82, depending on the soil properties and also the contact time of HOCs (i.e., aging). The isotope dilution method consistently predicted greater accumulation into earthworm (Eisenia fetida) than that by polyethylene (PE) or solid phase microextraction (SPME) sampler, likely because desorption in the gut enhanced bioavailability of soil-borne HOCs. A highly significant linear regression (R2 = 0.91) was found between IDM and 24-h Tenax desorption, with a slope statistically identical to 1. The IDM-derived accessible concentration (Ce) was further shown to accurately predict tissue residues in earthworm exposed in the same soils. Given the relatively short duration and simple steps, IDM has the potential to be readily adopted for measuring HOC bioaccessibility in soil and for improving risk assessment and evaluation of remediation efficiency.