BACKGROUND: Environmental pesticides, including insecticides and herbicides, are frequently encountered as mixtures and threaten non-target organisms in water. Evaluation of the combined toxicity of diverse pesticides with various concentration combinations is important, especially using limited experimental effort. Uniform design (UD) is one optimal experimental technique that can rationally arrange the concentrations of mixture components so that, with a minimum number of experimental runs, the combined toxicity of multiple pesticide mixtures can be evaluated.
RESULTS: The concentration compositions of 18 pesticide mixture points designed by UD covered almost all possible concentration ranges of the mixture components on account of the two merits of ‘space filling’ and ‘multiple levels’. The combined toxicities of 18 mixture rays extended by using the fixed-ratio ray design (FRRD) from 18 UD mixture points were evaluated by concentration addition (CA) and independent action (IA) models. It was found that the concentration–response curves (CRCs) predicted by CA were, on the whole, located between the 95% confidence intervals of the experimental CRCs, which implied that the combined toxicity of the pesticide mixture rays could be evaluated by CA. The CRCs predicted by IA were very similar to those from CA.
CONCLUSION: The model developed from the UD mixture rays can effectively simulate mixtures with arbitrary concentration compositions of 15 pesticides. The CA model can accurately evaluate and predict the combined toxicity of the pesticides, which provides a useful tool for risk assessment of a mixture of multiple pesticides in the aquatic environment. Copyright © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry