Histological effects and bioaccumulation potential of coal particulate-bound phenanthrene in the fathead minnow Pimephales promelas

Ellen Heath Gerhart, Robert J. Liukkonen, Robert M Carlson, Gertrude N. Stokes, Marta Lukasewycz, Alan R Oyler

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8 Scopus citations


Fathead minnows Pimephales promelas were exposed to phenanthrene adsorbed to < 125 μm coal particles in a 14-day flow-through exposure to determine changes in histology and bioaccumulation. Based on light microscopic examination, coal particulates caused no obvious damage to external surfaces such as gills or skin and particulates were not observed to have accumulated in internal tissues. However, coal particles were readily ingested and this was followed by extensive mucous secretion by the gut mucosa. In addition, electron micrographs of the gut showed mucous globules in coal-exposed epithelium but no erosion of microvilli. Phenanthrene bioacumulation was compared in fish exposed to dissolved aqueous phenanthrene and fish exposed to dissolved aqueous phenanthrene plus coal particulate-bound phenanthrene. Enhanced phenanthrene uptake was not measured in coal-exposed fish and bioconcentration factors were 1000-4000 during the 14-day exposure period. Elimination of coal from the gut and phenanthrene from the tissues was rapid; both were undetectable after a 24-h depuration period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-180
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Pollution. Series A, Ecological and Biological
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1981

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Space for bioassays and use of the histology facilities, including the electron microscope, were generously provided by the Environmental Research Laboratory-Duluth (ERL-D). We wish to thank Mr Roll F. Syrett of the ERL-D staff for constructing a water filtration system for the bioassay set-up, Mr Thomas H. Biele of the Duluth Water Filtration Plant for providing the particle size distribution analyses on coal samples and Mr Allan R. Batterman for assisting with electron microscopy. In addition, we are grateful to Ms Robin Manasse for excellent technical assistance. Support for this project was provided by Environmental Protection Agency Grant R803952 and by the Minnesota Sea Grant Program.

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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