• Dugesia japonica;
  • Mobility;
  • Cholinesterase;
  • ATPase;
  • Surfactants


Surfactants are a major class of emerging pollutants widely used in large quantities in everyday life and commonly found in surface waters worldwide. Freshwater planarian was selected to examine the effects of different surfactants by measuring mortality, mobility, and membrane-bound enzyme activities. Among the 10 surfactants tested, the acute toxicities of betaine and polyethylene glycol (PEG-200) to planarians were relatively low, with a median lethal concentration (LC50) greater than 10,000 mg/L. The toxicity to planarians of the other eight surfactants based on 48-h LC50 could be arranged in the descending order of cetylpyridinum chloride (CPC) > 4-tert-octylphenol (4-tert-OP) > ammonium lauryl sulfate > benzalkonium chloride > saponin > sodium lauroylsarcosinate > dioctyl sulfosuccinate > dodecyl trimethyl ammonium bromide (DTAB). Both CPC and 4-tert-OP were very toxic to planarians, with 48-h LC50 values <1 mg/L. The median effective concentrations (EC50s) of planarian mobility were in the 0.1 to 50 mg/L range and were in the same range as the 24-h LC50 of planarians exposed to different surfactants, except for DTAB. In addition, significant inhibition of cholinesterase activity activities was found in planarians exposed to 4-tert-OP at 2.5 and 5 mg/L and to saponin at 10 mg/L after 2-h treatments. This result suggests that planarian mobility responses can be used as an alternative indicator for acute toxicity of surfactants after a very short exposure period. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:843–850. © 2012 SETAC