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Polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) in the Canadian environment: The challenges of ecological risk assessments.


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Hodson, Peter V.; Wallace, Sarah J.; De Solla, Shane R.; Head, Jessica A.; Hepditch, Scott L. J.; Parrott, Joanne L.; Thomas, Philippe J.; Berthiaume, Alicia et Langlois, Valérie S. ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4031-6838 (2020). Polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) in the Canadian environment: The challenges of ecological risk assessments. Environmental Pollution , vol. 266 . p. 115165. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2020.115165.

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Ecological risk assessments (ERAs) of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs), as single congeners or in mixtures, present technical challenges that raise concerns about their accuracy and validity for Canadian environments. Of more than 100,000 possible PAC structures, the toxicity of fewer than 1% have been tested as individual compounds, limiting the assessment of complex mixtures. Because of the diversity in modes of PAC action, the additivity of mixtures cannot be assumed, and mixture compositions change rapidly with weathering. In vertebrates, PACs are rapidly oxygenated by cytochrome P450 enzymes, often to metabolites that are more toxic than the parent compound. The ability to predict the ecological fate, distribution and effects of PACs is limited by toxicity data derived from tests of a few responses with a limited array of test species, under optimal laboratory conditions. Although several models are available to predict PAC toxicity and rank species sensitivity, they were developed with data biased by test methods, and the reported toxicities of many PACs exceed their solubility limits. As a result, Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines for a few individual PACs provide little support for ERAs of complex mixtures in emissions and at contaminated sites. These issues are illustrated by reviews of three case studies of PAC-contaminated sites relevant to Canadian ecosystems. Interactions among ecosystem characteristics, the behaviour, fate and distribution of PACs, and non-chemical stresses on PAC-exposed species prevented clear associations between cause and effect. The uncertainties of ERAs can only be reduced by estimating the toxicity of a wider array of PACs to species typical of Canada’s diverse geography and environmental conditions. Improvements are needed to models that predict toxicity, and more field studies of contaminated sites in Canada are needed to understand the ecological effects of PAC mixtures.

Type de document: Article
Mots-clés libres: polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs); species sensitivity; environmental stressors; mixture interactions; ecological risk assessments (ERA)
Centre: Centre Eau Terre Environnement
Date de dépôt: 09 juin 2021 15:29
Dernière modification: 10 juill. 2022 04:00
URI: https://espace.inrs.ca/id/eprint/11467

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