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Keywords:

  • Tribromoethene;
  • Dibromoethene;
  • Species sensitivity distribution;
  • Toxicity testing;
  • Groundwater

Abstract

As part of a larger study investigating the fate and effects of brominated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in contaminated groundwaters discharging to surface waters, the toxicity of 1,2 dibromoethene (DBE) and 1,1,2-tribromoethene (TriBE) to freshwater aquatic biota was investigated. Their toxicity to bacteria (Microtox®), microalgae (Chlorella sp.), cladocerans (Ceriodaphnia dubia), duckweed (Lemna sp.) and midges (Chironomus tepperi) was determined after careful optimization of the test conditions to minimize chemical losses throughout the tests. In addition, concentrations of DBE and TriBE were carefully monitored throughout the bioassays to ensure accurate calculation of toxicity values. 1,2-Dibromoethene showed low toxicity to most species, with concentrations to cause 50% lethality or effect (LC/EC50 values) ranging from 28 to 420 mg/L, 10% lethality or effect (LC/EC10 values) ranging from 18 to 94 mg/L and no-observed-effect concentrations (NOECs) ranging from 22 to 82 mg/L. 1,1,2-Tribromoethene was more toxic than DBE, with LC/EC50 values of 2.4 to 18 mg/L, LC/EC10 values of 0.94 to 11 mg/L and NOECs of 0.29 to 13 mg/L. Using these limited data, together with data from the only other published study on TriBE, moderate-reliability water quality guidelines (WQGs) were estimated from species sensitivity distributions. The proposed guideline trigger values for 95% species protection with 50% confidence were 2 mg/L for DBE and 0.03 mg/L for TriBE. The maximum concentrations of DBE and TriBE in nearby surface waters (3 and 1 µg /L, respectively) were well below these WQGs, so the risk to the freshwater environment receiving contaminated groundwater inflows was considered to be low, with hazard quotients <1 for both VOCs. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:1984–1993. © 2010 SETAC