Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 390, Issue 8, pp 1999–2007

Assessment of the acute toxicity of triclosan and methyl triclosan in wastewater based on the bioluminescence inhibition of Vibrio fischeri


  • Marinella Farré
    • Department of Environmental ChemistryIQAB-CSIC
  • Daniela Asperger
    • Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Chemical Engineering and TechnologyUniversity of Zagreb
  • Lina Kantiani
    • Department of Environmental ChemistryIQAB-CSIC
  • Susana González
    • Department of Environmental ChemistryIQAB-CSIC
  • Mira Petrovic
    • Department of Environmental ChemistryIQAB-CSIC
    • Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA)
    • Department of Environmental ChemistryIQAB-CSIC
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00216-007-1779-9

Cite this article as:
Farré, M., Asperger, D., Kantiani, L. et al. Anal Bioanal Chem (2008) 390: 1999. doi:10.1007/s00216-007-1779-9


In this work, the contributions of triclosan and its metabolite methyl triclosan to the overall acute toxicity of wastewater were studied using Vibrio fischeri. The protocol used in this paper involved various steps. First, the aquatic toxicities of triclosan and methyl triclosan were determined for standard substances, and the 50% effective concentrations (EC50) were determined for these compounds. Second, the toxic responses to different mixtures of triclosan, methyl triclosan, and surfactants were studied in different water matrices, i.e., Milli-Q water, groundwater and wastewater, in order to evaluate (i) the antagonistic or synergistic effects, and (ii) the influence of the water matrices. Finally, chemical analysis was used in conjunction with the toxicity results in order to assess the aquatic toxicities of triclosan and its derivative in wastewaters. In this study, the toxicities of 45 real samples corresponding to the influents and effluents from eight wastewater treatment works (WWTW) were analyzed. Thirty-one samples were from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) equipped with two pilot-scale membrane bioreactors (MBR), and the influent and the effluent samples after various treatments were characterized via different chromatographic approaches, including solid-phase extraction (SPE), liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS), and SPE coupled to gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS). The toxicity was determined by measuring the bioluminescence inhibition of Vibrio fischeri. In order to complete the study and to extrapolate the results to different WWTPs, the toxicity to V. fischeri of samples from seven more plants was analyzed, as were their triclosan and methyl triclosan concentrations. Good agreement was established between the overall toxicity values and concentrations of the biocides, indicating that triclosan is one of the major toxic organic pollutants currently found in domestic wastewaters.


TriclosanMethyl triclosanSurfactantsToxicityVibrio fischeriBioluminescenceWastewater

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© Springer-Verlag 2007