Inhibition of aquatic toxicity of pyrethroid insecticides by suspended sediment



The use of pyrethroid insecticides is increasing in both agricultural and urban environments. Although pyrethroids display very high acute toxicities to water column organisms in laboratory tests, environmental water samples typically contain suspended sediment (SS) that can reduce the freely dissolved concentration of pyrethroids, hence their bioavailability. Consequently, phase distribution could play an important role in pyrethroid aquatic toxicology. In this study, we evaluated the effect of SS on the acute toxicity of four widely used pyrethroid insecticides to Ceriodaphnia dubia. In all assays, median lethal concentrations (LC50s) consistently increased with increasing SS, demonstrating the pronounced inhibitory effects of SS on pyrethroid toxicity. The LC50s in the 200 mg/L SS solutions were 2.5 to 13 times greater than those measured in sediment-free controls. Solid-phase microextraction (SPME) was used to determine the apparent distribution coefficient Kd for the pyrethroids in the water samples. Under the assumption that only the freely dissolved fraction is bioavailable, the measured Kd was used to predict C. dubia LC50s in the water samples. The predicted LC50s were within a factor of two of the measured values for 95% of the treatments. Results from this study suggest that the inhibitory effect of SS can be highly significant and must be considered in estimating exposures to pyrethroids in aquatic systems. The SPME methodology could be used effectively to measure bioavailable concentration and to predict the actual ecotoxicologic effects of pyrethroids.