Year of publication
- 2012 (2) (remove)
- Ecotoxicological assessment of small surface waters with emphasis on sediments : a case study in Hesse, Germany (2012)
- Chemical contamination of the environment and thus of aquatic ecosystems is steadily increasing. Whenever environmental pollutants enter a water body, they affect not only the water, but also the sediment. Substances that bind to sediment particles can be stored for a long time, whereby sediments act as sinks for some contaminants. Therefore, sediment assessments often more accurately describe the contamination of a water body than investigations of the water itself. Among environmental chemicals, endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) have gained more and more attention in recent years. Since they interfere with endocrine systems and may disturb reproduction, they endanger the survival of populations or even species. Hazardous substances enter the aquatic environment by different pathways, with sewage treatment plants (STPs) belonging to the most important contamination sources.The main objective of this work is a comprehensive sediment assessment of predominantly small surface waters in the German federal state of Hesse. The 50 study sites, located in 44 different creeks and small rivers, are situated in the densely populated and economically important Frankfurt/Rhine-Main area, as well as in rural and less urbanized regions. Chemical analytical data, provided by the Hessian Agency for the Environment and Geology (HLUG), indicated different contamination levels of the study sites. In order to investigate the general toxicity of the sediment samples, the oligochaete Lumbriculus variegatus and the midge Chironomus riparius were exposed to whole sediments and apical endpoints regarding biomass, survival, and reproduction were determined. In further experiments, special attention was paid to the contamination with endocrine active compounds. For this purpose, the reproductive success of the New Zealand mudsnail Potamopyrgus antipodarum was analyzed after exposure to whole sediments. Additionally, a yeast-based reporter gene assay was applied with sediment eluates to assess the estrogenic and androgenic activity of the samples. Biotest results were compared with chemical analysis data to investigate whether the test organisms reflect the measured pollution of the study sites and if the observed effects can be explained by chemical contamination. Five study sites, all located less than 1 km downstream of a STP discharger, were selected for further investigations based on the results of the sediment monitoring. The sediments from these sites were conspicuous due to their general toxic and/or estrogenic activity. In order to investigate whether the observed effects can be ascribed to the effluents, an active biomonitoring study was conducted with the mudsnail P. antipodarum and the zebra mussel Dreissena polymorpha, exposed at study sites located up- and downstream of the discharger. In addition to endocrine activity, genotoxic effects were investigated using the comet assay and the micronucleus assay. Endocrine activity was examined based on the reproductive output of P. antipodarum and the content of vitellogenin-like proteins in D. polymorpha. Yeast-based reporter gene assays were used to estimate the endocrine potential (estrogen, anti-estrogen, anti-androgen, dioxin-like) of sediment and water samples. 22% of the 50 sediments showed ecologically relevant effects in the biotests with L. variegatus and C. riparius. Only one sediment caused a relevant effect on both test organisms, while the other ten positively tested sediments affected either L. variegatus or C. riparius, probably due to differences in inter-species sensitivities. This suggests that a combination of different biotests is necessary for a comprehensive evaluation of sediment toxicity. 78% of the sediments caused a significantly increased number of embryos in P. antipodarum, which could be ascribed to estrogenic contamination of the sediment samples. An increase in the number of embryos by 60%, as observed in this study, and an associated increase in population size may result in the displacement of other, less competitive species. In the in vitro tests, 66% of the sediments showed estrogenic activity and 68% showed androgenic activity. Maximum observed values were 40.9 ng EEQ/kg sediment (EEQ = estradiol equivalent) for estrogenic and 93.4 ng TEQ/kg sediment (TEQ = testosterone equivalent) for androgenic activity. Natural and synthetic hormones as well as alkylphenols were the major contributors to the total estrogenicity of environmental samples in several other studies, and are likely responsible for a large part of the estrogenic activity in this case as well. Similarly, androgenic activity is mainly due to natural steroids and their metabolites. Bioassay results reflect the analytically measured contamination levels at the study sites only very infrequently. This can be ascribed to the occurrence of integrated effects of chemical mixtures present in the sediments. Additionally, effects of substances not included in the analytical program or of substances present in concentrations below the detection limit of the chemical analytical investigations as well as varying bioavailabilities might be relevant. The fact that a large part of the observed effects cannot be explained by the chemical contamination demonstrates the need for effect studies in ecotoxicological sediment assessments. In order to identify possible causes for the effects observed in the sediment monitoring, e.g. contamination sources, the area types (urban fabrics, arable lands, pasturages, etc.) of the catchment areas belonging to the study sites were analyzed. No significant differences were found between the area profiles of the sampling sites with and without effects in the biotests. The results indicate that the contamination responsible for the observed effects can be ascribed to different sources. Furthermore, study sites whose sediments exerted significant effects in biotests were located in anthropogenic as well as in predominantly natural areas. The active biomonitoring study at STPs revealed genotoxic and endocrine effects only sporadically. However, in the in vitro tests considerable endocrine activities of sediment and water samples were determined. No conclusive picture emerges as to whether the observed effects occur more frequently downstream of the dischargers, and thus could be attributed to a contamination by sewage. This indicates that contamination sources other than STP dischargers, for example agricultural runoff, may contribute to the observed effects. Weaker effects and biological activities downstream of a discharger compared to an upstream site might be ascribed to a dilution effect by the effluents. A comparison of the measured in vitro estrogenicity with exposure studies described in the literature shows that adverse effects in aquatic organisms can be expected at the EEQ concentrations determined in the present study. The results of the sediment monitoring and the STP study revealed a widespread endocrine pollution of small surface waters in Hesse. The fact that the bioassay results only rarely reflect study site contamination as determined by chemical analysis demonstrates the need for effect studies in comprehensive sediment assessments. In some cases STP dischargers increased, in other cases they decreased the observed in vivo effects and in vitro activity of environmental samples. Transferring the results obtained in laboratory studies to the field, adverse effects on aquatic ecosystems can be expected. The study illustrates the need for restrictive measures that contribute to the removal or reduction of environmental pollutants. For the identification of substances that have so far not been linked to adverse effects on the environment, methods such as effect-directed analyses (EDA) or toxicity identification evaluation (TIE) should be increasingly applied in future studies. Furthermore, bioassays for the assessment of endocrine activity should be implemented in standardized monitoring programs.
- Assessing the combined effects of xenobiotics, climate change and predators on aquatic organisms in multiple stressor experiments - a case study with pyrimethanil (2012)
- The environmental impact of climate change is meanwhile not only discussed in the scientific community but also in the general public. However, little is known about the interaction between climate change and pollutants like pesticides. A combination of multiple stressors (e.g. temperature, pollutants, predators) may lead to severe alterations for organisms such as changes in time of reproduction, reproductive success and growth performance, mortality and geographic distribution. The questions if aquatic organisms tend to react more sensitive towards incidents under climate change conditions remains. Therefore, within the present thesis the aquatic ecotoxicological profile of the fungicide pyrimethanil, as an exemplarily anthropogenic used contaminant, was examined. A large test battery of ecotoxicological standard tests and supplement bioassays with non-model species was conducted to investigate if species-specific or life stage-specific differences occur or if temperature alteration may change the impact of the fungicide. Two of the most sensitive species (Chironomus riparius and Daphnia magna) were used to investigate the acute and chronic thermal dependence of pyrimethanil effects. The results clearly depict that the ecotoxicity of pyrimethanil at optimal thermal conditions did not depend on the trophic level, but was species-specific. With regard to EC10 values the acute pyrimethanil toxicity on C. riparius increased with higher temperature (6.78 mg L-1 at 14°C and 3.06 mg L-1 at 26°C). The chronic response of D. magna to the NOEC (no observed effect concentration) of the fungicide (0.5 mg L-1) was examined in an experiment which lasted for several generations under three simulated near-natural temperature regimes (‘cold year, today’ (11 to 22.7°C), ‘warm year, today’ (14 to 25.2°C) and ‘warm year, 2080’ (16.5 to 28.1°C)). A pyrimethanil-induced mortality increase was buffered by the strongly related increase of the general reproductive capacity, while population growth was stronger influenced by temperature than by the fungicide. At a further pyrimethanil concentration (LOEC – lowest observed effect concentration: 1 mg L-1), a second generation could not be established by D. magna under all thermal regimes. Besides daphnids, the midge C. riparius was used for a second multigeneration study. In a bifactorial test design it was tested if climate change conditions alter or affect the impact of a low fungicide concentration on life history and genetic diversity. The NOAEC/2 (half of the no observed adverse effect concentration derived from a standard toxicity test) was used as a low pyrimethanil concentration to which laboratory populations of the midges were chronically exposed under the mentioned temperature scenarios. During the 140-day-multigeneration study, survival, emergence, reproduction, population growth, and genetic diversity of C. riparius were analyzed. The results reveal that high temperatures and pyrimethanil act synergistically on life history parameters of C. riparius. In simulated present-day scenarios, a NOAEC/2 of pyrimethanil provoked only slight to moderate beneficial or adverse effects. In contrast, an exposure to a NOAEC/2 concentration of pyrimethanil at a thermal situation likely for a summer under the future expactations uncovered adverse effects on mortality and population growth rate. In addition, genetic diversity was considerably reduced by pyrimethanil in the ‘warm year, 2080’ scenario, but only slightly under current climatic conditions. The multigeneration studies under near-natural thermal conditions indicate that not only the impact of climate change, but also low concentrations of pesticides may pose a reasonable risk for aquatic invertebrates in the future. This clearly shows that thermal and multigenerational effects should be considered when appraising the ecotoxicity of pesticides and assessing their future risk for the environment. In addition to temperature further multiple abiotic and biotic stressors alterate pollutant effects. Moreover, to better discriminate and understand the intrinsic and environmental correlates of changing aquatic ecosystems, it was experimentally unraveled how the effects of a low-dose of pyrimethanil on daphnids becomes modified by different temperatures (15°C, 20°C, 25°C) and in the presence/ absence of predator kairomones of Chaoborus flavicans larvae. The usage of a fractional multifactorial test design provided the possibility to investigate the individual growth, reproduction and population growth rate of Daphnia pulex via different exposure routes to the fungicide pyrimethanil at an environmentally relevant concentration (0.05 mg L-1) - either directly (via the water phase), indirectly (via algae food), dually (via water and food) or for multiple generations (fungicide treated source population). The number of neonates increased with increasing temperatures. At a temperature of 25°C no significant differences between the individual treatment groups were observed although the growth was overall inhibited due to pyrimethanil. Besides, at 15 and 20°C it is obvious that daphnids which were fed with contaminated algae had the lowest reproduction and growth rate. The obtained results clearly demonstrate that multiple stress factors can modify the response of daphnids to pollutants. The exposure routes of the contaminant are of minor importance, while temperature and the presence of a predator are the dominant factors impacting the reproduction of D. pulex. It can be concluded that low concentrations of pyrimethanil may disturb the zooplankton community at suboptimal temperature conditions, but the effects will become masked if chaoborid larvae are present. Therefore it seems necessary to observe prospectively if the combination of several stress factors like pesticide exposure and suboptimal temperature may influence the life history and sensitivity of several aquatic invertebrates differently. Besides standard test organisms it is inevitable to conduct test with aquatic invertebrate which are not yet considered regularly in ecotoxicological experiments. For example molluscs represent one of the largest phyla of macroinvertebrates with more than 100.000 species, being ecologically and economically important. Therefore, within the present study embryo, juvenile, half- and full-life cycle toxicity tests with the snail Physella acuta were performed to investigate the impact of pollutants on various life stages. Different concentrations of pyrimethanil (0.06-0.5 or 1.0 mg L-1) assessed at three temperatures (15°C, 20°C, 25°C) revealed that pyrimethanil caused concentration-dependent effects independent of temperature. Interestingly, the ecotoxicity of pyrimethanil was higher at lower temperature for the embryo hatching and F1 reproduction, but its ecotoxicity for the growth of juveniles and the F0 reproduction increased with increasing temperature. More specifically, it could have been observed that especially during the reproduction test high mortality rates occurred at the highest concentration of 1 mg L-1 at all temperatures. Due to high mortality rates no snails were available for the F1 at the highest concentrations (0.5 and 1.0 mg L-1). Compared to the F0, overall more egg masses were produced in the F1, being all fertile and no mortality occurred. For the F1-generation the strongest pyrimethanil effects were detected at 15°C. A comparison of effect concentrations between both generations showed that the F1 is more sensitive than the F0. These results indicate that an exposure over more than one generation may give a better overview of the impact of xenobiotics. With the establishment of an embryo and reproduction test under different temperatures and various concentrations of pyrimethanil with P. acuta we could successfully show that molluscs can respond more sensitive than model organisms and that both, chemical and thermal stressor strongly influence the behaviour of the pulmonates. It can be concluded that the high susceptibility for the fungicide observed in gastropods clearly demonstrates the complexity of pesticide-temperature interactions and the challenge to draw conclusions for the ecotoxicological risk assessment of pesticides under the impact of global climate change.