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Advances in understanding the response of fish to linear alcohols in the environment

Belanger, Scott E., Rawlings, Jane M., Stackhouse, Ricky
Chemosphere 2018 v.206 pp. 539-548
Danio rerio, Daphnia magna, Pimephales promelas, acute toxicity, carbon, chronic toxicity, ecotoxicology, embryo (animal), environmental assessment, environmental exposure, environmental hazards, ethanol, fish, hydrophobic bonding, hydrophobicity, juveniles, lethal concentration 50, quantitative structure-activity relationships, risk assessment, solubility
Short to long chain alcohols have a range of ecotoxicity to aquatic life driven by hydrophobic interactions with biological membranes. Carbon chain length and octanol:water partitioning coefficients are surrogates for hydrophobicity and strongly relate to aquatic toxicity. In these investigations, the toxicity of ethanol to 1-n-dodecanol to juvenile fish in standard acute toxicity tests is reviewed. Toxicity tests employing fish embryos (zebrafish Danio rerio and fathead minnow Pimephales promelas) in the Fish Embryo Test (OECD 236) format were conducted from C2 to C10 to compare against standard juvenile fish toxicity. Quantitative structure activity relationships for FET and fish individually and combined demonstrate that embryos are not different in sensitivity to juvenile fish. A combined QSAR was developed of the form Log 96 h LC50 (mM/L) = −0.925*log Kow + 2.060 (R2 10 = 0.954). Alcohols of 11–12 carbons show a deflection in the QSAR as toxicity approaches the solubility limit. Alcohols with longer chain lengths may only be tested at lower exposures relevant for chronic toxicity. Decanol was evaluated in a 33-d fish early life stage test (OECD 210) and survival was the most sensitive endpoint (EC10 = 0.43 mg/L, 0.0027 mM/L). This study suggests a reasonable acute to chronic ratio of 6.5 in line with historical literature for non-polar narcotic compounds. Fish are not uniquely more sensitive than Daphnia magna which suggests estimations of environmental hazard can be confidently made with either taxon. The overall environmental risk assessments for the longer chain alcohols included in this research remain largely unchanged primarily due to previous research demonstrating a very minimal environmental exposure even for highly toxic members of the category.