Another sort of bioassay is used to test the effects of compounds
being considered for use in drugs or skin care products. Before
a chemical compound receives FDA approval as an ingredient in
products for human use, it must be thoroughly tested on laboratory
For environmental testing, bioassays provide an integrated
picture of overall toxicity of an effluent or a sample of water,
sediment, or soil from a contaminated site. Fathead minnows,
various aquatic invertebrates, earthworms, protozoans, and seeds
all are used for bioassays of aquatic samples (see Keddy et al.,
1995, for an extensive review). The idea behind these bioassays
is that the test organism will react in a predictable way to
various types of environmental contaminants. Several studies
have compared the sensitivies of various types of seeds to common
pollutants (for example, Wang and Williams, 1988; Wang, 1987;
Athey, L.A., J.M. Thomas, W.E. Miller, and J.Q. Word. 1989.
Evaluation of bioassays for designing sediment cleanup strategies
at a wood treatment site. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry,
Bowers, N., J.R. Pratt, D. Beeson, and M. Lewis. 1997. Comparative
evaluation of soil toxicity using lettuce seeds and soil ciliates.
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 16: 207-213.
Chang, L.W., J.R. Meier, and M.K. Smith. 1997. Application
of plant and earthworm bioassays to evaluate remediation of a
lead-contaminated soil. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol.,
Keddy, C.J., J.C. Greene, and M.A. Bonnell. 1995. Review of
whole-organism bioassays: soil, freshwater sediment, and freshwater
assessment in Canada. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety,
Thomas, J.M., J.R. Skalski, J.F. Cline, M.C. McShane, &
J.C. Simpson. 1986. Characterization of chemical waste site contamination
and determination of its extent using bioassays. Environmental
Toxicology and Chemistry, 5: 487-501.
Wang, W. 1987. Root elongation method for toxicity testing
of organic and inganic pollutants. Environmental Toxicology
and Chemistry, 6: 409-414.
Wang, W. 1986. Comparative toxicology of phenolic compounds
using root elongation method. Environmental Toxicology and
Chemistry, 5: 891-896.
Wang, W., and J.M. Williams. 1988. Screening and biomonitoring
of industrial effluents using phytotoxicity tests. Environmental
Toxicology and Chemistry, 7: 645-652.