Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 390, Issue 8, pp 1999–2007 | Cite as

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

  • Marinella Farré
  • Daniela Asperger
  • Lina Kantiani
  • Susana González
  • Mira Petrovic
  • Damià BarcelóEmail author
Original Paper


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.


Triclosan Methyl triclosan Surfactants Toxicity Vibrio fischeri Bioluminescence Wastewater 



This study was funded by the European Union through the project PROMOTE (GOCE 518074) and by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science through CTM2007-2817-E/TECNO and the project CEMAGUA (CGL2007-64551/HID). This article reflects only the author’s views, and the EU is not liable for any use that maybe made of the information contained therein. Marinella Farré thanks the Ministerio de Educacíon y Ciencia for its support through the I3P program. The Waters Corporation (USA) and Merck (Germany) are acknowledged for their gifts of the SPE cartridges and the UPLC columns, respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marinella Farré
    • 1
  • Daniela Asperger
    • 2
  • Lina Kantiani
    • 1
  • Susana González
    • 1
  • Mira Petrovic
    • 1
    • 3
  • Damià Barceló
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ChemistryIQAB-CSICBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Chemical Engineering and TechnologyUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia
  3. 3.Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA)BarcelonaSpain

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