Multivariate analysis of the impacts of the turbine fuel JP-4 in a microcosm toxicity test with implications for the evaluation of ecosystem dynamics and risk assessment

Ecotoxicology. 1993 Dec;2(4):271-300. doi: 10.1007/BF00368535.


Turbine fuels are often the only aviation fuel available in most of the world. Turbine fuels consist of numerous constituents with varying water solubilities, volatilities and toxicities. This study investigates the toxicity of the water soluble fraction (WSF) of JP-4 using the Standard Aquatic Microcosm (SAM). Multivariate analysis of the complex data, including the relatively new method of nonmetric clustering, was used and compared to more traditional analyses. Particular emphasis is placed on ecosystem dynamics in multivariate space.The WSF is prepared by vigorously mixing the fuel and the SAM microcosm media in a separatory funnel. The water phase, which contains the water-soluble fraction of JP-4 is then collected. The SAM experiment was conducted using concentrations of 0.0, 1.5 and 15% WSF. The WSF is added on day 7 of the experiments by removing 450 ml from each microcosm including the controls, then adding the appropriate amount of toxicant solution and finally bringing the final volume to 3 L with microcosm media. Analysis of the WSF was performed by purge and trap gas chromatography. The organic constituents of the WSF were not recoverable from the water column within several days of the addition of the toxicant. However, the impact of the WSF on the microcosm was apparent. In the highest initial concentration treatment group an algal bloom ensued, generated by the apparent toxicity of the WSF of JP-4 to the daphnids. As the daphnid populations recovered the algal populations decreased to control values. Multivariate methods clearly demonstrated this initial impact along with an additional oscillation seperating the four treatment groups in the latter segment of the experiment. Apparent recovery may be an artifact of the projections used to describe the multivariate data. The variables that were most important in distinguishing the four groups shifted during the course of the 63 day experiment. Even this simple microcosm exhibited a variety of dynamics, with implications for biomonitoring schemes and ecological risk assessments.