Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 9, pp 6920–6931 | Cite as

Environmental risk of combined emerging pollutants in terrestrial environments: chlorophyll a fluorescence analysis

  • Víctor González-Naranjo
  • Karina Boltes
  • Irene de Bustamante
  • Pino Palacios-Diaz
Research Article


The risk assessment in terrestrial environments has been scarcely studied for mixtures of organic contaminants. To estimate toxicity due to these compounds, an ecotoxicological test may be done with the appropriate organism and biomarker. Photosynthesis is principally performed at photosystem II, and its efficiency is affected by any environmental stress. Consequently, the measure of this efficiency may be a good indicator of toxicity if different parameters are employed, e.g., the quantum efficiency of photosystem II and the photochemical quenching coefficient. We did a series of assays to determine the toxicity of two organic contaminants, ibuprofen and perfluorooctanoic acid, using a higher plant (Sorghum bicolor). The results showed more toxicity for the perfluorinated compound and greater sensibility for the quantum efficiency of photosystem II. Regarding the binary combination, three methods were applied to calculate EC50: combination index, concentration addition, and independent action. Synergistic behavior is the principal toxicological profile for this mix. Therefore, the combination index, which considers interactions among chemicals, gave the best estimation to determine risk indices. We conclude that the inhibition of photosynthesis efficiency can be a useful tool to determine the toxicity of the mixtures of organic pollutants and to estimate ecological risks in terrestrial environments.


Combination index Hazard quotient Organic compounds Photosynthesis Phytotoxicity Quantum efficiency of PSII 



This research was funded by the next research projects: CSD2006-00044, MICINN-CGL2009-13168-C03-01, CGL2012-39520-C03-01, and P2009/AMB-1588.

Supplementary material

11356_2014_3899_MOESM1_ESM.doc (311 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 311 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Víctor González-Naranjo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Karina Boltes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Irene de Bustamante
    • 2
    • 3
  • Pino Palacios-Diaz
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of AlcaláAlcalá de HenaresSpain
  2. 2.Advanced Study Institute of MadridIMDEA-AguaAlcalá de HenaresSpain
  3. 3.Department of GeologyUniversity of AlcaláAlcalá de HenaresSpain
  4. 4.Department of Animal Pathology, Animal Production, Food Science and Food TechnologyUniversidad de Las Palmas de Gran CanariaLas Palmas de Gran CanariaSpain

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