Assessing toxicity of hydrophobic aliphatic and monoaromatic hydrocarbons at the solubility limit using novel dosing methods

Thomas F. Parkerton, Daniel J. Letinski, Eric J. Febbo, Josh D. Butler, Cary A. Sutherland, Gail E. Bragin, Bryan M. Hedgpeth, Barbara A. Kelley, Aaron D. Redman, Philipp Mayer, Louise Camenzuli, Eleni Vaiopoulou*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    Reliable delineation of aquatic toxicity cut-offs for poorly soluble hydrocarbons is lacking. In this study, vapor and passive dosing methods were applied in limit tests with algae and daphnids to evaluate the presence or absence of chronic effects at exposures corresponding to the water solubility for representative hydrocarbons from five structural classes: branched alkanes, mono, di, and polynaphthenic (cyclic) alkanes and monoaromatic naphthenic hydrocarbons (MANHs). Algal growth rate and daphnid immobilization, growth and reproduction served as the chronic endpoints investigated. Results indicated that the dosing methods applied were effective for maintaining mean measured exposure concentrations within a factor of two or higher of the measured water solubility of the substances investigated. Chronic effects were not observed for hydrocarbons with an aqueous solubility below approximately 5 μg/L. This solubility cut-off corresponds to structures consisting of 13–14 carbons for branched and cyclic alkanes and 16–18 carbons for MANHs. These data support reliable hazard and risk evaluation of hydrocarbon classes that comprise petroleum substances and the methods described have broad applicability for establishing empirical solubility cut-offs for other classes of hydrophobic substances. Future work is needed to understand the role of biotransformation on the observed presence or absence of toxicity in chronic tests.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number129174
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


    • Aqueous solubility
    • Chemical activity
    • Chronic effects
    • Cut-offs
    • Hydrocarbons
    • Toxicity


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