Bioaccumulation of Highly Hydrophobic Chemicals by Lumbriculus variegatus

  • Lawrence P. BurkhardEmail author
  • Tylor Lahren
  • Terry L. Highland
  • James R. Hockett
  • David R. Mount
  • Teresa J. Norberg-King


Bioaccumulation of highly hydrophobic chemicals (log KOW > 8) from contaminated sediments by Lumbriculus variegatus has been studied for relatively few chemicals, and the measured and model predicted biota-sediment accumulation factors (BSAFs) can differ by orders of magnitude. In the current study, sediment bioaccumulation tests with L. variegatus were performed on sediments dosed with chemicals having a wide range of predicted n-octanol/water partition coefficients (KOW; 106–1018), including some higher than most highly hydrophobic chemicals studied to date. The highly hydrophobic chemicals had biphasic elimination kinetics with compartments A and B having fast and slow elimination kinetics, respectively, and for compartment B, elimination followed first-order kinetics. For compartment A with fast elimination kinetics, the mechanism and its kinetic-order could not be determined. Steady-state BSAFs (kg organic carbon/kg lipid) of 0.015, 0.024, and 0.022 were derived for tetradecachloro-p-terphenyl, tetradecachloro-m-terphenyl, and octadecachloro-p-quaterphenyl, respectively. The high uncertainty in predicted KOWs for highly hydrophobic chemicals limited the comparison and evaluation of predicted BSAFs from the Arnot–Gobas food web model and BSAFs measured in this study. The results of this study point to the need to perform dietary assimilation efficiency studies with highly hydrophobic compounds to resolve uncertainties surrounding the estimation of their KOW and the need to understand mechanism and models for the biphasic elimination kinetics.



The authors thank John Nichols for his review of the manuscript. The information in this document has been funded wholly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has been subjected to review by the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory and approved for publication. Approval does not signify that the contents reflect the views of the Agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1210 kb)


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mid-Continent Ecology Division, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Office of Research and DevelopmentU.S. Environmental Protection AgencyDuluthUSA

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