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Toxic Equivalency Factors For PAH And Their Applicability In Shellfish Pollution Monitoring Studies.

R. Law, C. Kelly, K. Baker, Jacqueline Jones, A. Mcintosh, C. Moffat
Published 2002 · Environmental Science, Chemistry, Medicine

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Fish and shellfish are exposed to a wide range of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) following oil spills at sea, and can become contaminated as a result. Finfish have a more effective mixed-function oxidase enzyme system than shellfish, and are therefore able to metabolise and excrete PAH more effectively than the invertebrates. Thus, contamination by high-molecular weight PAH, including those with carcinogenic potential and so of concern with regard to human consumers, is therefore usually observed in shellfish, and particularly in bivalve molluscs. Oil spills are not the sole source of PAH, however, as parent compounds are also generated by a wide range of combustion processes. In this paper, consideration is given to monitoring data gathered following recent oil spills (both of crude oil and diesel fuel), alongside data from other studies. These include studies conducted around a former gasworks site and downstream of an aluminium smelter in the UK, and from mussel monitoring studies undertaken in the UK and the USA (including the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the National Status and Trends programme), and in other countries in Europe. For comparative purposes the PAH concentrations are summed and also expressed as benzo[a]pyrene equivalents, their relative concentrations being weighted in relation to the carcinogenic potential of individual PAH compounds using toxic equivalency factors (TEF). Our aim was to assess the utility of this approach in fishery resource monitoring and control following oil spills. Certainly this approach seems useful from the data assessed in this study. and the relative ranking of the various studies seems to reflect the relative degree of concern for human consumers due to the differing contamination sources. As a simple tool for control purposes it is equally applicable to PAH derived from oil spills, and from industrial and combustion sources.
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