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Keywords:

  • toxicity assessment;
  • toxicity equivalent factors;
  • toxicity equivalents;
  • cyanobacterial toxins;
  • microcystins;
  • cylindrospermopsin;
  • anatoxin a;
  • anatoxin a (s);
  • saxitoxins;
  • neosaxitoxin

Abstract

A method is presented for the toxicity assessment of mixtures of cyanobacterial toxins with hepatotoxic, neurotoxic, and carcinogenic effects. The method is based on the derivation of toxicity equivalent factors obtained from toxicological data presented for cyanobacterial toxins in the literature and on the use of toxicity equivalents in analogy with the method used for polychlorinated dibenzo[p]dioxins and dibenzofurans. Because the method easily can include all toxicological data for cyanobacterial toxins at any time, the quality of the toxicity assessment of these toxins can be increased continuously depending on data availability. Generally, all toxicologically relevant cyanobacterial toxins for which data are available should be included in this assessment. The method is considered useful in the toxicity assessment of cyanobacterial toxin mixtures in surface water bodies and in drinking water. When using the total sum of the toxicity equivalents, the approach proposed here seems to lead to a more realistic toxicity assessment of cyanobacterial toxin mixtures than does the worst-case approach. However, the availability of data about acute and, especially, chronic toxicity must be increased significantly in the future in order to establish toxicologically validated exposure limit values for cyanobacterial toxins, especially those with hepatotoxic, neurotoxic, and carcinogenic effects. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Environ Toxicol 17: 395–399, 2002; Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI 10.1002/tox.10066