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The effect of pH on the uptake and toxicity of the bivalent weak base chloroquine tested on Salix viminalis and Daphnia magna



The uptake and accumulation of most electrolytes will change with pH because of the different speciation states of these compounds at various pH. Non-ionized compounds will partition into fatty and organic phases (such as cell membranes) more readily than the corresponding charged compounds, and therefore a higher toxicity can be expected. The current study examines the pH-dependent toxicity and bioaccumulation of the bivalent weak base chloroquine (pKa: 10.47 and 6.33, log KOW 4.67) tested on Salix viminalis (basket willow) and Daphnia magna (water flea). The transpiration rates of hydroponically grown willow cuttings were used to determine the toxicity of chloroquine at pH levels of 6, 7, 8, and 9. Root concentration factors were calculated from solution measurements. Results showed more than 10-fold higher toxicity and four to seven times higher root concentration factor at pH 9 than at pH 6. The toxicity of chloroquine was tested on Daphnia magna using the standard Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development acute toxicity test modified to accommodate testing at pH levels of 7, 8, and 9. Increasing toxicity was seen at higher pH. The results of the current study confirm that the toxicity of weak bases with intermediate pKa values is higher at high pH levels. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011;30:354–359. © 2010 SETAC