Polycyclic aromatic acids are primary metabolites of alkyl-PAHs - a case study with Nereis diversicolor

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Linus Mattias Valdemar Malmquist, Henriette Selck, Kåre Bredeli Jørgensen, Jan H. Christensen

Although concentrations of alkylated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (alkyl-PAHs) in oil-contaminated sediments are higher than those of unsubstituted PAHs, only little attention has been given to metabolism and ecotoxicity of alkyl-PAHs. In this study we demonstrated that metabolism of alkyl-PAHs primarily forms polycyclic aromatic acids (PAAs). We generalize this to other alkyl-PAHs, based on literature and the present study of the metabolism of 1-methylphenanthrene, 3,6-dimethylphenanthrene, and 1-, 2-, 3-, and 6-methylchrysene related to their unsubstituted parent PAHs. Also, we observed that body burdens and production of PAAs was related to the position of the methyl-group, showing same isomer specific preferences as for microbial degradation of alkyl-PAHs. We detected a high production of PAAs, and larger metabolism of alkyl-PAHs than their unsubstituted parent PAHs. We therefore propose that carboxylic acid metabolites of alkyl-PAHs have the potential of constituting a new class of contaminants in marine waters that needs attention in relation to ecological risk assessments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology (Washington)
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)5713-5721
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ID: 135256924