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Integrated ecological risk assessment of pesticides in tropical ecosystems: A case study with carbofuran in Brazil



The aim of the present study is to contribute an ecologically relevant assessment of the ecotoxicological effects of pesticide applications in agricultural areas in the tropics, using an integrated approach with information gathered from soil and aquatic compartments. Carbofuran, an insecticide/nematicide used widely on sugarcane crops, was selected as a model substance. To evaluate the toxic effects of pesticide spraying for soil biota, as well as the potential indirect effects on aquatic biota resulting from surface runoff and/or leaching, field and laboratory (using a cost-effective simulator of pesticide applications) trials were performed. Standard ecotoxicological tests were performed with soil (Eisenia andrei, Folsomia candida, and Enchytraeus crypticus) and aquatic (Ceriodaphnia silvestrii) organisms, using serial dilutions of soil, eluate, leachate, and runoff samples. Among soil organisms, sensitivity was found to be E. crypticus < E. andrei < F. candida. Among the aqueous extracts, mortality of C. silvestrii was extreme in runoff samples, whereas eluates were by far the least toxic samples. A generally higher toxicity was found in the bioassays performed with samples from the field trial, indicating the need for improvements in the laboratory simulator. However, the tool developed proved to be valuable in evaluating the toxic effects of pesticide spraying in soils and the potential risks for aquatic compartments. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:437–445. © 2011 SETAC