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The aquatic hazard of hydrocarbon liquids and gases and the modulating role of pressure on dissolved gas and oil toxicity

Paquin, Paul R., McGrath, Joy, Fanelli, Christopher J., Di Toro, Dominic M.
Marine pollution bulletin 2018 v.133 pp. 930-942
alkanes, dissolved gases, gases, lipids, models, oils, risk, solubility, toxicity, water pollution
Hydrostatic pressure enhances gas solubility and potentially alters toxicity and risks of oil and gas releases to deep-sea organisms. This study has two primary objectives. First, the aquatic hazard of dissolved hydrocarbon gases is characterized using results of previously published laboratory and field studies and modeling. The target lipid model (TLM) is used to predict effects at ambient pressure, and results are compared to effect concentrations derived from extrapolation of liquid alkane hazard data. Second, existing literature data are used to quantify and predict pressure effects on toxicity using an extension of the TLM framework. Results indicate elevated pressure mitigates narcosis, particularly for sensitive species. A simple adjustment is proposed to allow TLM-based estimates of acute effect and TLM-derived HC5 values (concentrations intended to provide 95% species protection) for oil or gas constituents to be calculated at depth. Future applications, and opportunities and challenges for providing validation, are discussed.