Seven phthalate esters were evaluated for their 10-d toxicity to the freshwater invertebrates Hyalella azteca and Chironomus tentans in sediment. The esters were diethyl phthalate (DEP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHP), di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), and a commercial mixture of C7, C9, and C11 isophthalate esters (711P). All seven esters were tested in a sediment containing 4.80% total organic carbon (TOC), and DBP alone was tested in two additional sediments with 2.45 and 14.1% TOC. Sediment spiking concentrations for DEP and DBP were based on LC50 (lethal concentration for 50% of the population) values from water-only toxicity tests, sediment organic carbon concentration, and equilibrium partitioning (EqP) theory. The five higher molecular weight phthalate esters (DHP, DEHP, DINP, DIDP, 711P), two of which were tested and found to be nontoxic in water-only tests (i.e., DHP and DEHP), were tested at single concentrations between 2,100 and 3,200 mg/kg dry weight. Preliminary spiking studies were performed to assess phthalate ester stability under test conditions. The five higher molecular weight phthalate esters in sediment had no effect on survival or growth of either C. tentans or H. azteca, consistent with predictions based on water-only tests and EqP theory. The 10-d LC50 values for DBP and H. azteca were >17,400, >29,500, and >71,900 mg/kg dry weight for the low, medium, and high TOC sediments, respectively. These values are more than 30× greater than predicted by EqP theory and may reflect the fact that H. azteca is an epibenthic species and not an obligative burrower. The 10-d LC50 values for DBP and C. tentans were 826, 1,664, and 4,730 mg/kg dry weight for the low, medium, and high TOC sediments, respectively. These values are within a factor of two of the values predicted by EqP theory. Pore-water 10-d LC50 values for DBP (dissolved fraction) and C. tentans in the three sediments were 0.65, 0.89, and 0.66 of the water-only LC50 value of 2.64 mg/L, thereby agreeing with EqP theory predictions to within a factor of 1.5. The LC50 value for DEP and C. tentans was >3,100 mg/kg dry weight, which is approximately 10× that predicted by EqP theory. It is postulated that test chemical loss and reduced organism exposure to pore water may have accounted for the observed discrepancies with EqP calculations for DEP.
- Phthalate esters