Date: 17 Oct 2001

Toxicity of Select Beta Adrenergic Receptor-Blocking Pharmaceuticals (B-Blockers) on Aquatic Organisms

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One class of pharmaceutical compounds identified in U.S. and European waters are the B-adrenergic receptor blocking compounds (B-blockers). However, little information is available on the potential aquatic toxicity of these compounds. Therefore, Hyalella azteca, Daphnia magna, Ceriodaphnia dubia, and Oryias latipes (Japanese medaka) were exposed to metoprolol, nadolol, and propranolol to determine potential toxicity. Average 48-h LC50 for propranolol to H. azteca was 29.8 mg/L. The no-observed-effects concentration (NOEC) and lowest-observed-effects concentration (LOEC) for propranolol affecting reproduction of H. azteca were 0.001 and 0.1 mg/L, respectively. The average propranolol and metoprolol 48-h LC50s for D. magna were 1.6 and 63.9 mg/L, respectively. C. dubia 48-h LC50s were 0.85 and 8.8 mg/L for propranolol and metoprolol, respectively. The NOEC and LOEC of propranolol affecting reproduction in C. dubia were 0.125 and 0.25 mg/L, respectively. In O. latipes, the propranolol 48-h LC50 was 24.3 mg/L. Medaka growth was decreased at 0.5 mg/L propranolol. A 2-week medaka reproductive study indicated significant changes in plasma steroid levels; however, no changes in the average number of eggs produced or number of viable eggs which hatched was observed. In a 4-week follow-up propranolol exposure, the total number of eggs produced by medaka and the number of viable eggs that hatched were decreased at concentrations as low as 0.5 μg/L. Based on this study and the expected aqueous environmental exposure levels, adverse effects of propranolol to invertebrate populations is unlikely; however, further reproductive studies are need to elucidate the risk to teleosts.

Received: 14 August 2001/Accepted: 4 March 2002