Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 453-461

First online:

Assessment of the Probabilistic Ecological Risk Assessment-Toxic Equivalent Combination Approach for Evaluating Pesticide Mixture Toxicity to Zooplankton in Outdoor Microcosms

  • T. K. GeorgeAffiliated withToxicology Centre, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • , K. LiberAffiliated withToxicology Centre, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • , K. R. SolomonAffiliated withCentre for Toxicology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario
  • , P. K. SibleyAffiliated withCentre for Toxicology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario

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The probabilistic ecological risk assessment-toxic equivalent (PERA-TE) combination approach was recently introduced in response to the increased demand for risk assessment approaches that can accommodate mixtures. The effectiveness and validity of the PERA-TE approach was assessed using two types of pesticide mixtures tested in outdoor microcosms. The first type of mixture consisted of pesticides with similar modes of action (the organophosphorus insecticides chlorpyrifos and diazinon) and the second of pesticides with different modes of action (chlorpyrifos, endosulfan, and trifluralin). To assess the toxicity of, and potential interaction within, each type of mixture, theoretically equitoxic TE mixtures were prepared in different proportional ratios. The TE mixtures were based on the 10th centile of acute toxicity effects distributions (data obtained from the literature) and a factor of the sum of the 90th centile field concentrations extrapolated from exposure distributions based on North American surface water monitoring data. Changes in zooplankton population abundances were used as the effect measure. The binary organophosphorus mixtures were equitoxic and conformed to the concentration addition model. The observed response trends of zooplankton exposed to the mixture of chemicals with different modes of action were a result of the susceptibility of individual taxa to the dominating pesticide in each mixture. Overall, the PERA-TE approach was not effective in predicting the toxicity and interaction of all mixture types and should be limited to assessing mixtures of chemicals with similar modes of action.