Acute Toxicity and Environmental Risks of Five Veterinary Pharmaceuticals for Aquatic Macroinvertebrates

  • Mirco Bundschuh
  • Torsten Hahn
  • Bert Ehrlich
  • Sibylla Höltge
  • Robert Kreuzig
  • Ralf SchulzEmail author


Due to the high use of antibiotics and antiparasitics for the treatment of livestock, there is concern about the potential impacts of the release of these compounds into freshwater ecosystems. In this context, the present study quantified the acute toxicity of two antibiotics (sulfadiazine and sulfadimidine), and three antiparasitic agents (flubendazole, fenbendazole, ivermectin) for nine freshwater invertebrate species. These experiments revealed a low degree of toxicity for the sulfonamide antibiotics, with limited implications in the survival of all test species at the highest test concentrations (50 and 100 mg/L). In contrast, all three antiparasitic agents indicated on the basis of their acute toxicity risks for the aquatic environment. Moreover, chronic toxicity data from the literature for antiparasitics, including effects on reproduction in daphnids, support the concern about the integrity of aquatic ecosystems posed by releases of these compounds. Thus, these pharmaceuticals warrant further careful consideration by environmental risk managers.


Sulfonamide antibiotics Benzimidazole anthelmintics Ivermectin Antiparasitics Predicted no effect concentration Predicted environmental concentration 



We gratefully acknowledge financial support by the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), Dessau, Germany (UBA-FKZ 20267435). The authors also wish to thank Philipp Egeler and Matthias Liess for providing some test species, and the companies Janssen Animal Health and Intervet Innovation GmbH for donating test substances. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirco Bundschuh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Torsten Hahn
    • 3
    • 4
  • Bert Ehrlich
    • 1
  • Sibylla Höltge
    • 5
  • Robert Kreuzig
    • 5
  • Ralf Schulz
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for Environmental SciencesUniversity Koblenz-LandauLandauGermany
  2. 2.Department of Aquatic Sciences and AssessmentSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental MedicineHannoverGermany
  4. 4.Zoological InstituteTechnical University of BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany
  5. 5.Institute of Environmental and Sustainable ChemistryTechnical University of BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany

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