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Aquatic Phytotoxicity to Lemna minor of Three Commonly Used Drugs of Addiction in Australia

Abstract

The manufacturing and consumption of drugs of addiction has increased globally and their widespread occurrence in the environment is an emerging concern. This study evaluated the phytotoxicity of three compounds: methamphetamine, codeine and morphine; commonly reported in Australian urban water, to the aquatic plant Lemna minor under controlled conditions. L. minor was sensitive to lower drug concentrations when administered in multi-compound mixtures (100–500 µg L−1) than when applied individually (range 600–2500 µg L−1), while no adverse effects were observed at environmentally-relevant concentrations (1–5 µg L−1) detected in wastewater effluent. In conclusion, the results show that the concentrations of these compounds discharged into the environment are unlikely to pose adverse phytotoxic effects. These three compounds are known to be the most stable of their group under such conditions indicating that with this respect it is safe to use recycled water for existing regulated reclaimed purposes including agricultural or parklands irrigation or replenishing surface and groundwater. However, more research on the analysis of methamphetamines and opiates in municipal effluents is needed to reassure the likely environmental hazard of these neuroactive drug classes to aquatic organisms. Given the ever-growing production and aquatic disposal of discharge wastewater globally, this study provides timely and valuable insights into the likely drug-related impacts of effluent disposal on aquatic plants in receiving environments.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship. The authors would like to acknowledge the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) for experimental set-up and providing necessary resources during the experiment. Special thanks are given to Dr Cobus Gerber for reviewing the analytical section and Maulik Ghetia for assisting with instrumental analysis.

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Correspondence to Christopher P. Saint.

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Yadav, M.K., Kumar, A., Short, M.D. et al. Aquatic Phytotoxicity to Lemna minor of Three Commonly Used Drugs of Addiction in Australia. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 103, 710–716 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-019-02708-9

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Keywords

  • Aquatic plants
  • Analytical toxicology
  • Contaminants of emerging concern
  • Freshwater toxicology
  • Water quality