PAH toxicity at aqueous solubility in the fish embryo test with Danio rerio using passive dosing

Thomas-Benjamin Seiler, Nina Best, Margit Møller Fernqvist, Hendrik Hercht, Kilian E.C. Smith, Thomas Braunbeck, Philipp Mayer, Henner Hollert

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


As part of the risk assessment process within REACh, prior to manufacturing and distribution of chemical substances their (eco)toxicological impacts have to be investigated. The fish embryo toxicity test (FET) with the zebrafish Danio rerio has gained a high significance as an in vitro alternative to animal testing in (eco)toxicology. However, for hydrophobic organic chemicals it remains a technical challenge to ensure constant freely dissolved concentration at the maximum exposure level during such biotests.

Passive dosing with PDMS silicone was thus applied to control the freely dissolved concentration of ten PAHs at their saturation level in the FET. The experiments gave repeatable results, with the toxicity of the PAHs generally increasing with the maximum chemical activities of the PAHs. HPLC analysis confirmed constant exposure at the saturation level. In additional experiments, fish embryos without direct contact to the silicone surface showed similar mortalities as those exposed with direct contact to the silicone. Silicone oil overlaying the water phase as a novel passive dosing phase had no observable effects on the development of the fish embryos until hatching.

This study provides further data to support the close relationship between the chemical activity and the toxicity of hydrophobic organic compounds. Passive dosing from PDMS silicone enabled reliable toxicity testing of (highly) hydrophobic substances at aqueous solubility, providing a practical way to control toxicity exactly at the maximum exposure level. This approach is therefore expected to be useful as a cost-effective initial screening of hydrophobic chemicals for potential adverse effects to freshwater vertebrates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-84
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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