Passive Dosing of Petroleum and Essential Oil UVCBs-Whole Mixture Toxicity Testing at Controlled Exposure

Ngoc Lâm Trac, Karina Knudsmark SjøHolm, Heidi Birch, Philipp Mayer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Petroleum products and essential oils are produced and used in large amounts and are categorized as "Substances of Unknown or Variable composition, Complex reaction products or Biological materials (UVCBs)." These UVCBs are notorious difficult-to-test substances, since they are complex mixtures of hydrophobic and volatile compounds. This study introduces two passive dosing (PD) approaches for whole UVCB toxicity testing: (1) headspace PD applies the UVCB and purified lipid oil as a donor to control exposure via the headspace and (2) silicone rod PD applies UVCB-loaded silicone rods to control exposure via an aqueous test medium and headspace. Headspace gas chromatography-mass spectrometry measurements were used to cross-validate the approaches at the saturation level and to confirm exposure and maintain mixture composition at varying donor concentration levels. Both approaches were applied to whole-mixture toxicity tests of petroleum and essential oil UVCBs with daphnia and algae. Finally, the observed toxicity was linked to concentrations in the donor and in lipid membranes at equilibrium with the donors. Dose-response curves were similar across the dosing approaches and tested species for petroleum products but differed by an order of magnitude between essential oils and PD systems. All observed toxic effects were consistent with baseline toxicity, and no excess mixture toxicity was observed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)6150–6159
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Lipids
  • Toxicity
  • Environmental pollution
  • Silicones
  • Mixtures

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