, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 420–429 | Cite as

The toxicity of a mixture of two antiseptics, triclosan and triclocarban, on reproduction and growth of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

  • Anna Katharina Vingskes
  • Nicole Spann


Many widely used healthcare products contain antiseptics, whose persistence in aquatic environments, soils, and sediments leads to the contamination of ecosystems and adversely affects wildlife. Recently, the impact not only of high but also low doses of contaminants and mixtures of several chemicals has become a focus of concern. In this study, toxicity tests of the antiseptics triclosan (TCS) and triclocarban (TCC) were performed in an aquatic test medium using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Nominal concentrations of TCS and TCC were tested in separate single-substance toxicity tests (96-h-exposure), focussing on growth and reproduction endpoints. Median effective concentrations (EC50s) from the single-substance tests were subsequently used to set up five different ratios of TCS:TCC mixtures leading to the same toxicity. Six dilutions of each mixture ratio were tested for effon reproduction of C. elegans. In the single-substance tests, TCC was about 30 times more toxic than TCS when considering effects on growth and concerning reproduction, TCC was about 50 times more toxic than TCS. For both substances, the toxic effect on reproduction was more pronounced than the one on growth. Low doses of TCS (1–10 µmol L−1) stimulated reproduction by up to 301% compared to the control, which might be due to endocrine disruption or other stress-related compensation responses (hormesis). Neither antiseptic stimulated growth. In the mixtures, increasing amounts of TCC inhibited the stimulatory effects of TCS on reproduction. In addition, the interactions of TCS and TCC were antagonistic, such that mixtures displayed lower toxicity than would have been expected when TCS and TCC mixtures adhered to the principle of concentration addition.


Hormesis Endocrine disruption Aquatic invertebrates Dose-response modelling Ecotoxicology 



We thank Stefanie Gehner for her support during the lab work, Prof. Dr. Walter Traunspurger for helpful remarks and the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) for supporting this project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Nicole Spann currently works for an independent scientific consulting company offering services for the registration of agrochemicals. The remaining author declares that she has no conflict of interest

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Ecology, Faculty of BiologyBielefeld UniversityBielefeldGermany

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