Distribution of Phthalate Esters in a Marine Aquatic Food Web: Comparison to Polychlorinated Biphenyls
Dialkyl phthalate esters (DPEs) are widely used chemicals, with over 4 million tonnes being produced worldwide each year. On the basis of their octanol-water partition coefficients (Kow), which range from 10(1.61) for dimethyl phthalate to 10(9.46) for di-iso-decyl phthalate, certain phthalate esters have the potential to bioconcentrate and biomagnify in aquatic food webs. However, there are no reported field studies on the trophodynamics of phthalate ester in aquatic food webs. This study reports the distribution of 8 individual phthalate esters (i.e., dimethyl, diethyl, di-isobutyl, di-n-butyl, butylbenzyl, di(2-ethylhexyl), di-n-octyl, and di-n-nonyl) and 5 commercial isomeric mixtures (i.e., di-iso-hexyl (C6), di-iso-heptyl (C7), di-iso-octyl (C8), di-iso-nonyl (C9), and di-iso-decyl (C10)) in a marine aquatic food web. DPE concentrations were determined in 18 marine species, representing approximately 4 trophic levels. Co-analysis of DPEs and 6 PCB congeners (i.e., PCB-18, 99, 118, 180, 194, and 209) in all samples produced a direct comparison of the bioaccumulation behavior of PCBs and DPEs. Lipid equivalent concentrations of the PCBs increased with increasing trophic position and stable isotope ratios (delta15N). The Food-Web Magnification Factor (FWMF) of the PCB congeners ranged from 1.8 to 9.5. Lipid equivalent concentrations of low and intermediate molecular weight DPEs (i.e., C1-C7 DPEs: dimethyl, diethyl, di-iso-butyl, di-n-butyl, benzylbutyl, and C6 and C7 isomers) did not exhibit statistically significant trends with trophic position or stable nitrogen isotope ratios (delta15N) in the food web and FWMFs were not significantly different from 1. Lipid equivalent concentrations of the high-molecular-weight DPEs (i.e., C8-C10 DPEs: di(2-ethylhexyl), di-n-octyl, di-n-nonyl, C8, C9, and C10) declined significantly with increasing trophic position and stable isotope ratios (delta15N), producing FWMFs between 0.25 and 0.48. These results show that all DPEs tested did not biomagnify in the studied aquatic food web whereas PCBs did biomagnify.