Novel Approach for Characterizing pH-Dependent Uptake of Ionizable Chemicals in Aquatic Organisms

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Here, we present and evaluate a combined experimental and modeling approach for characterizing the uptake of ionizable chemicals from water and sediments into aquatic organisms under different pH conditions. We illustrate and evaluate the approach for two pharmaceuticals (diclofenac and fluoxetine) and one personal care product ingredient (triclosan) for the oligochaete Lumbriculus variegatus. Initially, experimental data on the uptake of the three chemicals at two pH values were fitted using a toxicokinetic model to derive uptake and depuration constants for the neutral and ionized species of each molecule. The derived constants were then used to predict uptake from water and sediment for other pH conditions. Evaluation of predictions against corresponding experimental data showed good predictions of uptake for all test chemicals from water for different pH conditions and reasonable predictions of uptake of fluoxetine and diclofenac from a sediment. Predictions demonstrated that the level of uptake of the study chemicals, across pH ranges in European streams, could differ by up to a factor of 3035. Overall, the approach could be extremely useful for assessing internal exposure of aquatic organisms across landscapes with differing pH. This could help support better characterization of the risks of ionizable chemicals in the aquatic environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6965-6971
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Issue number12
Early online date8 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 American Chemical Society. This is an open access article published under an ACS AuthorChoice License, which permits copying and redistribution of the article or any adaptations for non-commercial purposes.


  • Animals
  • Aquatic Organisms
  • Cosmetics
  • Geologic Sediments
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Oligochaeta
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Rivers
  • Triclosan
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical/pharmacokinetics

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