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Environmental fate & pathways

Bioaccumulation: aquatic / sediment

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Description of key information

Bioaccumulation is not applicable to pitch, coal tar, high-temp. (coal-tar pitch) due to its inert matrix structure and low bioavailability. Provisionally, benzo[a]pyrene is used as marker substance to characterise the bioaccumulation potential of coal-tar pitch. Thus, the BCF value of BaP is used in the chemical safety assessment of coal-tar pitch.

Key value for chemical safety assessment

BCF (aquatic species):
608 dimensionless

Additional information

The BCF in fish of 608 (sunfish: Lepomis macrochirus) determined with BaP as test substance was the only value of a study among 13 published investigations to be given the high reliability of 2 in the risk assessment report for coal-tar pitch (EU 2008, Tab. 3.28). This value is in line with an unpublished fish feeding study (rainbow trout: Oncorhyncus mykiss): BCF = 977 with a very short depuration half-life of 1.1 d (Lampi et al. 2009: CONCAWE review).

This suggests that the BCF of BaP should be distinctly below 2000.

Sources: Lampi M and Parkerton T (2009) Bioaccumulation Assessment of PAHs - Review Paper Prepared for CONCAWE, October 2009

EU (2008) Coal-Tar Pitch, high temperature - Risk Assessment. European Union Risk Assessment Report, The Netherlands (URL:

According to EU 2008, presented data from: Jimenez BD, Cirmo CP, and McCarthy JF (1987) Effects of feeding and temperature on uptake, elimination and metabolism of benzo(a)pyrene in the bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus). Aquat. Toxicol., 10, 41-57