A model for risk assessment was built for simultaneous, congener-specific PCB bioaccumulation from sediment to fish to otters (Lutra lutra). Toxic equivalence factors (TEFs) were used to sum individual congeners in otters to a toxic equivalent concentration (TEQ) relative to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. Microbial dechlorination and burial in sediments and bioaccumulation are modeled to predict time trends of PCB concentrations in otters. Effects of accumulated PCBs on otters were assessed for vitamin A metabolism and reproduction, taking model uncertainty into account. Three locations in The Netherlands were modeled with PCB levels in sediment of 1 to 171 pg TEQ/g organic carbon (OC). Almost 100 eduction in litter size was predicted for the most polluted area in 1996. Due to large associated uncertainty, a period of 25 to 80 years may be needed for recovery of otter vitamin A levels and litter size at this site. Calculated median sediment quality criteria (SQC) range between 1 and 12 pg TEQ/g OC, depending on the chosen effect criterion. Uncertainty in calculated effects and SQCs is substantial and is mainly caused by uncertainty in PCB congener 126 accumulation.
- polychlorinated biphenyls
- toxic substances