Although the bioconcentration and bioaccumulation potentials of pesticides in aquatic organisms are conveniently estimated from their hydrophobicity (represented by log K(ow), it is still indispensable to factor in the effects of key abiotic and biotic processes on such pesticides to gain a more precise understanding of how they may have in the natural environment.
Relying only on pesticide hydrophobicity may produce an erroneous environmental impact assessment.
Several factors affect rates of pesticide dissipation and accumulation in the aquatic environment.
Such factors include the amount and type of sediment present in the water and type of diet available to water-dwelling organisms.
The particular physiological behavior profiles of aquatic organisms in water, such as capacity for uptake, metabolism, and elimination, are also compelling factors, as is the chemistry of the water.
When evaluating pesticide uptake and bioconcentration processes, it is important to know the amount and nature of bottom sediments present and the propensity that the stuffed aquatic organisms have to absorb and process xenobiotics.
Extremely hydrophobic pesticides such as the organochlorines and pyrethroids are susceptible to adsorb strongly to dissolved organic matter associated with bottom sediment.
Such absorption reduces the bioavailable fraction of pesticide dissolved in the water column and reduces the probable ecotoxicological impact on aquatic organisms living the water.
In contrast, sediment dweller may suffer from higher levels of direct exposure to a pesticide, unless it is rapidly degraded in sediment.
Metabolism is important to bioconcentration and bioaccumulation processes, as is detoxification and bioactivation.
Hydrophobic pesticides that are expected to be highly stored in tissues would not be bioconcentrated if susceptible to biotic transformation by aquatic organisms to more rapidly metabolized to hydrophilic entities are generally less toxic.
By analogy, pesticides that are metabolized to similar entities by aquatic species surely are les ecotoxicologically significant.
One feature of fish and other aquatic species that makes them more relevant as targets of environmental studies and of regulation is that they may not only become contaminated by pesticides or other chemicals, but that they constitute and important part of the human diet.
In this chapter, we provide an overview of the enzymes that are capable of metabolizing or otherwise assisting in the removal of xenobiotics from aquatic species.
Many studies have been performed on the enzymes that are responsible for metabolizing xenobiotics.
In addition to the use of conventional biochemical methods, such studies on enzymes are increasingly being conducted using immunochemical methods and amino acid or gene sequences analysis.
Such studies have been performed in algae, in some aquatic macrophytes, and in bivalva, but less information is available for other aquatic species such as crustacea, annelids, aquatic insecta, and other species.
Although their catabolizing activity is often lower than in mammals, oxidases, especially cytochrome P450 enzymes, play a central role in transforming pesticides in aquatic organisms.
Primary metabolites, formed from such initial enzymatic action, are further conjugated with natural components such as carbohydrates, and this aids removal form the organisms.
The pesticides that are susceptible to abiotic hydrolysis are generally also biotically degraded by various esterases to from hydrophilic conjugates.
Reductive transformation is the main metabolic pathway for organochlorine pesticides, but less information on reductive enzymology processes is available.
The information on aquatic species, other than fish, that pertains to bioconcentration factors, metabolism, and elimination is rather limited in the literature.
The kinds of basic information that is unavailable but is needed on important aquatic species includes biochemistry, physiology, position in food web, habitat, life cycle, etc. such information is very important to obtaining improved ecotoxicology risk assessments for many pesticides and other chemicals.
More research attention on the behavior of pesticides in, and affect on many standard aquatic test species (e.g., daphnids, chironomids, oligochaetes and some bivalves) would particularly be welcome.
In addition to improving ecotoxicology risk assessments on target species, such information would also assist in better delineating affects on species at higher trophic levels that are predaceous on the target species.
There is also need for designing and employing more realistic approaches to measure bioconcentration and bioaccumulation, and ecotoxicology effects of pesticides in natural environment.
The currently employed steady-state laboratory exposure studies are insufficient to deal with the complexity of parameters that control the contrasts to the abiotic processes of pesticide investigated under the strictly controlled conditions, each process is significantly affected in the natural environment not only by the site-specific chemistry of water and sediment but also by climate.
From this viewpoint, ecotoxicological assessment should be conducted, together with the detailed analyses of abiotic processes, when higher-tier mesocosm studies are performed. Moreover, in-depth investigation is needed to better understand the relationship between pesticide residues in organisms and associated ecotoxicological endpoints.
The usual exposure assessment is based on apparent (nominal) concentrations fo pesticides, and the residues of pesticides or their metabolites in the organisms are not considered in to the context of ecotoxicological endpoints. Therefore, more metabolic and tissue distribution information for terminal pesticide residues is needed for aquatic species both in laboratory settings and in higher-tier (microcosm, mesocosm) studies.
- DOI - Reviews of environmental contamination and toxicology (DOI)
JournalReviews of environmental contamination and toxicology
Rev Environ Contam Toxicol (0179-5953)
Reviews of environmental contamination and toxicology
Environmental Health Science Laboratory, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd., Takarazuka, Hyogo, 665-8555, Japan. katagi [at] sc.sumitomo-chem.co.jp
Rev Environ Contam Toxicol. 2010 ;204():1-132
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