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Predictive mixture toxicity assessment of pesticides in Swedish surface waters

Authors Mikael Gustavsson
Thomas Backhaus
Published in The society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Wold Congress Berlin
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Language en
Keywords Ecotoxicology, Risk Assessment, Mixtures, Pesticides
Subject categories Environmental toxicology


Predictive mixture toxicity assessment of pesticides in Swedish surface waters It has been demonstrated that combined effects of chemical mixtures give rise to stronger toxic effects than any of the compounds applied individually. The Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) has recently put forth concentration addition as a conceptual basis for the determination of environmental quality standards for mixtures. In this study we have predicted the risks from pesticide mixtures within Swedish surface waters using the concentration addition concept. Data from the national pesticide monitoring program in Sweden has been combined with experimental data from the US EPA’s database for single chemical toxicity and predicted toxicity from QSAR’s to determine the risks from pesticide mixtures in Swedish surface waters close to agricultural areas. The Swedish monitoring program has been taking samples in six different locations since 2002 and currently analyses the samples for more than 80 compounds, out of which 78 has been detected. All and all 751 weekly samples have been analysed bringing the total number of analyses performed close to 60 000. The abundance of information enabled the study of not only the individual site risks but also additional questions. Among these the effect on risk from season, taxa most at risk, average error factor when ignoring mixture effects as well as the sensitivity of the risk assessment to different ecotoxicological data has been determined. The results show that the average risk quotient of the mixtures from the six different sites range between 2,3 and 18,9 thus calling for additional assessments. The study also show no effect on risk from season implying that potential for recovery from pesticide stress is very limited. Finally the high ratio between predicted risk of the mixture and the average risk of the individual substances clearly demonstrates the need for going beyond the standard compound-by-compound assessment.

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