Improved Petro Tox Tool for Assessing Petroleum Toxicity

June 15, 2020

Risk assessors for industry or regulating authorities to predict the toxicity of petroleum products with increased accuracy & transparency

Concawe, the science division of the European Petroleum Refiners Association, recently announced updates to PetroTox, its modeling tool that can be used to predict the toxicity of petroleum and other complex hydrocarbon mixtures. Concawe initially supported the development of PetroTox to assist the industry in classifying petroleum substances under Registration, Evaluation, Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) regulations. Exponent successfully uses PetroTox to model the toxicity of oil. We have found this model to be a useful tool because it uses detailed compositional information and physical-chemical characteristics based on hydrocarbon blocks to estimate the bioavailability of dissolved constituents. This strategy enables more accurate estimates of toxicity than approaches based on measurements of individual compounds. PetroTox also accounts for changes in toxicity due to environmental weathering, an important consideration for long-lasting releases to the environment.

The latest version of PetroTox has been translated into an open-source platform that is simpler to use and produces results that can be clearly communicated to stakeholders. The new PetroTox v4.0 package is available for download at

Exponent works closely with Concawe on environmental issues relevant to the petroleum industry. The majority of oil companies operating in Europe maintain membership with Concawe and support its efforts to produce unbiased scientific information for use in developing informed policies by member states and the European Union.

How Exponent Can Help

Exponent's environmental and ecological scientists and engineers have wide-ranging experience in aquatic hazard assessment of petroleum substances from regions around the world. Exponent staff were involved in the initial development of PetroTox and are currently working with the American Petroleum Institute using data for several raw and weathered oils to further support and validate the PetroTox model. Additionally, Exponent is working with Concawe to validate the toxicity model in PetroTox for other oil-related chemicals. Exponent is well positioned to help clients leverage PetroTox to address current issues on environmental effects of petroleum releases, providing computational, forensics, toxicological, and strategic assistance.