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Keywords:

  • Chiral contaminant;
  • Enantioselective toxicity;
  • Bioaccumulation;
  • Sediment;
  • Fipronil

Abstract

Fipronil is a widely used, broad-spectrum pesticide that is applied as an equal mixture of two enantiomers. As regulations on older pesticides become more stringent, production and application of fipronil is expected to grow, leading to increased inputs into aquatic environments and complex exposures to biota. To better understand the potential exposures introduced by fipronil contamination, we conducted subchronic toxicity tests with larval fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) and waterborne fipronil and its enantiomers and exposed juvenile fathead minnows to fipronil-spiked sediment. Enantioselective toxicity was observed in fish after the 7-d subchronic exposure, with increased toxicity of the racemate and (+) enantiomer observed compared with the (−) enantiomer. Curiously, toxicities of the racemate and (+) enantiomer were not significantly different, even though the racemate contains 50% of the (+) enantiomer and 50% of the less toxic (−) enantiomer. During the sediment exposure, racemic fipronil in sediment was transformed primarily to fipronil sulfide, while exposed fish rapidly accumulated fipronil and/or fipronil sulfide and transformed the majority to fipronil sulfone. Using the results of the sediment-exposure experiment, the authors explored a mechanism that may contribute to the interesting trends in enantioselective toxicity observed during the waterborne exposures. In tandem, the aquatic toxicity experiment and the spiked sediment exposure demonstrate the potentially complex behavior of fipronil in sediment and fish. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2013;32:222–227. © 2012 SETAC