Background, aim, and scope
The high consumption of blood lipid regulators is leading to frequent reports of the occurrence of fibrates in natural streams and wastewater effluents. This paper describes a study undertaken to evaluate the acute toxicity of bezafibrate, clofibric acid, gemfibrozil, and fenofibric acid, a metabolite of fenofibrate whose ecotoxicity has not been previously reported.
Materials and methods
The bioassays used were based on Vibrio fischeri, Daphnia magna, and Anabaena CPB4337 tests. Anabaena CPB4337 is a novel bioassay based on Anabaena sp. PCC 7120 strain CPB4337 bearing in the chromosome a Tn5 derivative with luxCDABE from the luminescent terrestrial bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens.
The higher toxicity corresponded to fenofibric acid, with EC50 as low as 1.72 mg/l for V. fischeri. Gemfibrozil was also toxic for Anabaena sp. with EC50 of 4.42 mg/l. The study reports the results from toxicity tests using fortified real wastewater samples taken from the effluent of a wastewater treatment plant. The wastewater itself was found to be very toxic to Anabaena CPB4337 (84% of bioluminescence inhibition) whereas it did not have any negative effect on D. magna or V. fischeri. On the contrary, V. fischeri luminescence exhibited a stimulatory effect in wastewater.
Except for fenofibric acid, the Anabaena bioassay was more sensitive than the D. magna and V. fischeri bioassays to bezafibrate, clofibric acid, and gemfibrozil. For the three toxicity tests, fortification resulted in lower measured toxicity for the four compounds, probably indicating a reduced bioavailability due to the interaction with other chemicals in the wastewater or with particulate matter. The observed decrease in toxicity associated to the use of a wastewater matrix was higher for the more hydrophobic compounds reaching one order of magnitude for bezafibrate and gemfibrozil.
The Anabaena CPB4337 bioassay revealed a certain risk associated with the three less toxic compounds tested. Based on V. fischeri and D. magna bioassays, bezafibrate and gemfibrozil would have been considered non-toxic and harmful, respectively. The use of EC50 data measured in wastewater increases the risk estimation.
Recommendations and perspectives
Cyanobacteria, as primary producers with a key role in the carbon and nitrogen cycles, are a substantial component of the microbial food webs. Any detrimental effect on this group may have a negative impact in nutrient availability to organisms of higher trophic levels and should be considered in ecotoxicity assessment tests.
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The research was funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education through grants CTM2005-03080/TECNO and CSD2006-00044 and the Comunidad de Madrid, grants 0505/AMB-0395 and 0505/MB/0321.
Responsible editor: Christian Steinberg
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Rosal, R., Rodea-Palomares, I., Boltes, K. et al. Ecotoxicity assessment of lipid regulators in water and biologically treated wastewater using three aquatic organisms. Environ Sci Pollut Res 17, 135–144 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-009-0137-1