Indexed on: 27 Jul '14Published on: 27 Jul '14Published in: Science of the Total Environment
Investigations of the bioavailability and toxicity of polycyclic aromatic compounds (PAC) have rarely considered the heterogeneity of coals and the impact of more polar PAC besides polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Earlier, we investigated the toxicity of eight heterogeneous coals and their extracts. In the present study, the hazard potential with respect to mechanism-specific toxicity of polar fractions of dichloromethane extracts from coals was studied. Polar extract fractions of all coal types except for anthracite induced EROD activity (determined in RTL-W1 cells), independent of coal type (Bio-TEQs between 23 ± 16 and 52 ± 22 ng/g). The polar fractions of all bituminous coal extracts revealed mutagenic activity (determined using the Ames Fluctuation test). No significant mutation induction was detected for the polar extract fractions from the lignite, sub-bituminous coal and anthracite samples, which indicates a higher dependency on coal type for polar PAC here. Additionally, information on bioavailability was derived from a bioaccumulation test using the deposit-feeding oligochaete Lumbriculus variegatus which was exposed for 28 days to ground coal samples. Despite the high toxic potential of most coal extracts and a reduced biomass of Lumbriculus in bituminous coal samples, bioaccumulation of PAH and mortality after 28 days were found to be low. Limited bioaccumulation of PAH (up to 3.6 ± 3.8 mg/kg EPA-PAH) and polar PAC were observed for all coal samples. A significant reduction of Lumbriculus biomass was observed in the treatments containing bituminous coals (from 0.019 ± 0.004 g to 0.046 ± 0.011 g compared to 0.080 ± 0.025 g per replicate in control treatments). We conclude that bioavailability of native PAC from coals including polar PAC is low for all investigated coal types. In comparison to lignite, sub-bituminous coals and anthracite, the bioavailability of PAC from bituminous coals is slightly increased.