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Mechanistic studies of congener-specific adsorption and bioaccumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and phthalates in soil by novel QSARs

Cai, Jun, Gu, Chenggang, Ti, Qingqing, Liu, Chang, Bian, Yongrong, Sun, Cheng, Jiang, Xin
Environmental research 2019 v.179 pp. 108838
adsorption, bioaccumulation, bioavailability, carrots, density functional theory, electron transfer, electrostatic interactions, environmental assessment, least squares, phthalates, pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, prediction, quantitative structure-activity relationships, risk assessment, soil, soil ecosystems, toxicity, variance
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and phthalic acid esters (PAEs) which are structurally featured with one or more aromatic skeletons are often regarded as two important groups of organic pollutants due to the widespread distribution and notorious toxic effects in soils. Relative to the great number of structural analogues or congeners detected in soil, however, the soil adsorption and bioaccumulation of PAHs/PAEs by plant is far less studied for the insufficiency of experimental determinations or lack of insights into the inherent structural requirements. To mechanistically evaluate the congener-specific soil adsorption and bioaccumulation for PAHs/PAEs, the quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSARs) were successfully developed by density functional theory (DFT) computation and partial least squares (PLS) analysis. As verified with the higher cumulative variance coefficients and cross-validated correlation coefficients for strong stability, interpretability and predictability, the QSARs could be used for prediction of unknown adsorption potency or bioavailability within the specified applicability domain, respectively. It was indicated by QSAR that the structural requirements of PAHs/PAEs necessary for strengthening the soil adsorption were mainly attributed to the molecular polarizability and the associated dispersion interaction with soil. As regards the bioaccumulation by carrot, the aggravation of spherical polarity change of molecules and the involved electrostatic interaction with soil entity or electron transfer from the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) of PAHs/PAEs was implied to be inherently decisive for the variance of bioavailability among congeners. Based on the holistic view of negative correlation relationship, the soil adsorption seemed to act as the forceful constraint in decreasing the bioaccumulation of PAHs/PAEs and could also be alternatively gauged as the preliminary evaluation of bioavailability and risks on soil ecosystem. It would thus help better understand the soil adsorption and bioaccumulation with the informative mechanistic insights and provide data support for ecological risk assessment of PAHs/PAEs in soils.