Contribution of commonly analyzed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to potential toxicity in early life stages of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
In a series of bio-effect-directed fractionation experiments, we investigated the potential toxicity of sediment extracts from a contaminated bay. A previous study investigated abnormalities and hepatic ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase (EROD) activities in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) larvae by exposing newly fertilized eggs to the total extract and to fractions separated by degree of aromaticity. A major part of the potential toxicity was isolated in a fraction containing polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs). In this study, we prepared a synthetic PAC mixture with 17 commonly analyzed polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in amounts equimolar to those found in the sediment PAC fraction. The 17 PAHs, which included 11 of the 16 United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) priority PAHs, were unable to account for the toxicopathic effects observed and could explain less than 4% of the total EROD induction. The lack of a clear relationship between toxicopathic effects and EROD induction underlines the need for a battery of biomarkers for estimating environmental risk. These results reveal the limits of our knowledge regarding compounds responsible for potential toxicity in field situations.