Toxicity profiling is aimed to characterize the toxic potency of a sample, that may range from individual, pure compounds to complex mixtures that occur in environmental samples. Here, one can think of water, passive samplers, solid particulate matter, sediment and dust, but also blood or amniotic fluid. For toxicity profiling, the sample or its extract is tested in a battery of bioassays, which are biological test systems making use of whole organisms or parts of organisms (e.g., tissues, cells, proteins) showing a quantitative response when exposed to toxic chemicals. Based on the responses of the different bioassays, a toxicity profile of the sample is constructed, which can be regarded as its toxicological “fingerprint”.
Toxicity profiling can be performed for different purposes, i.e.
- To group, rank, and prioritize compounds for further research or risk assessment purposes
- To monitor environmental quality status for environmental risk assessment purposes
- To select environmental samples for further effect-directed analysis (EDA) to identify emerging, toxic compounds