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Identifying chemicals and mixtures of potential biological concern detected in passive samplers from Great Lakes tributaries using high-throughput data and biological pathways

May 18, 2021

Waterborne contaminants were monitored in 69 tributaries of the Laurentian Great Lakes in 2010 and 2014 using semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs) and polar organic chemical integrative samplers (POCIS). A risk-based screening approach was used to prioritize chemicals and chemical mixtures, identify sites at greatest risk for biological impacts, and identify potential hazards to monitor at those sites. Analyses included 185 chemicals (143 detected) including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), legacy and current-use pesticides, fire retardants, pharmaceuticals, and fragrances. Hazard quotients were calculated by dividing detected concentrations by biological effect concentrations reported in the ECOTOX Knowledgebase (toxicity quotients) or ToxCast database (exposure–activity ratios [EARs]). Mixture effects were estimated by summation of EAR values for chemicals that influence ToxCast assays with common gene targets. Nineteen chemicals—atrazine, N,N-diethyltoluamide, di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, dl-menthol, galaxolide, p-tert-octylphenol, 3 organochlorine pesticides, 3 PAHs, 4 pharmaceuticals, and 3 phosphate flame retardants—had toxicity quotients >0.1 or EARs for individual chemicals >10–3 at 10% or more of the sites monitored. An additional 4 chemicals (tributyl phosphate, triethyl citrate, benz[a]anthracene, and benzo[b]fluoranthene) were present in mixtures with EARs >10–3. To evaluate potential apical effects and biological endpoints to monitor in exposed wildlife, in vitro bioactivity data were compared to adverse outcome pathway gene ontology information. Endpoints and effects associated with endocrine disruption, alterations in xenobiotic metabolism, and potentially neuronal development would be relevant to monitor at the priority sites. The EAR threshold exceedance for many chemical classes was correlated with urban land cover and wastewater effluent influence, whereas herbicides and fire retardants were also correlated to agricultural land cover. Environ Toxicol Chem 2021;40:2165–2182. Published 2021. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of SETAC.