In this paper we determine whether a realistic mixture of hydrophobic chemicals affects the growth dynamics of a marine diatom and how this effect compares to the effect of temperature, light regime and nutrient conditions. To do so, we examine the specific growth rate of Phaeodactylum tricornutum in a 72 h algal growth inhibition test using a full factorial design with three nutrient regimes, two test temperatures, three light intensities and three chemical exposures. Passive samplers were used to achieve exposure to realistic mixtures of organic chemicals close to ambient concentrations. Nutrient regime, temperature and time interval (24, 48 and 72 h) explained 85% of the observed variability in the experimental data. The variability explained by chemical exposure was about 1%. Overall, ambient concentrations of hydrophobic compounds present in Belgian coastal waters, and for which the passive samplers have affinity, are too low to affect the intrinsic growth rate of P. tricornutum.