Aquatic Test Systems for Studying the Fate of Xenobiotic Compounds

    Published: Jan 1990

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    A variety of test systems, including microcosms, have been developed to provide information on the environmental fate of test compounds in aquatic ecosystems. As the overall strategy for development of tests has been less than logical and only vaguely chronological, we believe that some degree of categorization and guidance in the application of these test systems is appropriate. Our approach is based on four criteria: environmental inocula, sediment, generation of degradation rates, and intact water/sediment cores. Test systems either (1) provide basic biodegradability/rate information (Screening Tests) or (2) answer research questions about biodegradation rates and their controlling factors in the environment (Investigative Tests). Examples of each system type are cited with their respective advantages and disadvantages.

    Criteria are suggested for selection of test systems with emphasis on the simplest system that can provide the most relevant and necessary information. Shake-flask tests are recommended for degradation rate information and assessment of significance of environmental factors on degradation. Intact core microcosm systems are useful to study a limited number of processes that cannot be examined in shake-flasks and, with a mathematical model, to verify biodegradation rates obtained from simpler test systems using conditions more reflective of natural conditions.


    river die-away test, microcosm, biodegradation, fate, sediment

    Author Information:

    Cripe, CR
    Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Research Laboratory, Gulf Breeze, FL

    Pritchard, PH
    Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Research Laboratory, Gulf Breeze, FL

    Committee/Subcommittee: E47.04

    DOI: 10.1520/STP20097S

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