Mixtures of Chemical Pollutants at European Legislation Safety Concentrations: How Safe Are They?

Type Article
Date 2014-09
Language English
Author(s) Carvalho Raquel N.1, Arukwe AugustineORCID2, Ait-Aissa Selim3, Bado-Nilles Anne3, 4, Balzamo Stefania5, Baun AndersORCID6, Belkin ShimshonORCID7, Blaha LudekORCID8, Brion Francois3, Conti Daniela5, Creusot Nicolas3, Essig Yona9, Ferrero Valentina E. V.1, Flander-Putrle Vesna10, Furhacker Maria11, Grillari-Voglauer Regina11, Hogstrand Christer12, Jonas Adam8, Kharlyngdoh Joubert B.13, Loos Robert1, Lundebye Anne-Katrine14, Modig Carina13, Olsson Per-ErikORCID13, Pillai Smitha11, Polak Natasa9, Potalivo Monica5, Sanchez Wilfried3, Schifferli Andrea16, Schirmer Kristin15, 17, 18, Sforzini SusannaORCID19, Sturzenbaum Stephen R.9, Softeland Liv14, Turk Valentina10, Viarengo AldoORCID19, Werner Inge16, Yagur-Kroll Sharon7, Zounkova Radka8, Lettieri Teresa
Affiliation(s) 1 : Commiss European Communities, DG Joint Res Ctr, Inst Environm & Sustainabil, I-21027 Ispra, VA, Italy.
2 : Norwegian Univ Sci & Technol, N-7034 Trondheim, Norway.
3 : Natl Inst Ind Environm & Risks, Verneuil En Halatte, France.
4 : Univ Reims, F-51100 Reims, France.
5 : ISPRA, Rome, Italy.
6 : Tech Univ Denmark, Dept Environm Engn, Lyngby, Denmark.
7 : Hebrew Univ Jerusalem, Inst Life Sci, IL-91905 Jerusalem, Israel.
8 : Masaryk Univ, Fac Sci, RECETOX, CS-61137 Brno, Czech Republic.
9 : Kings Coll London, Analyt & Environm Sci Div, London WC2R 2LS, England.
10 : Natl Inst Biol, Marine Biol Stn Piran, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
11 : Univ Nat Resources & Life Sci, Vienna, Austria.
12 : Kings Coll London, Diabet & Nutr Sci Div, London WC2R 2LS, England.
13 : Univ Orebro, Life Sci Ctr, Orebro, Sweden.
14 : Natl Inst Nutr & Seafood Res, Bergen, Norway.
15 : Eawag, Swiss Fed Inst Aquat Sci & Technol, Dubendorf, Switzerland.
16 : Eawag EPFL, Swiss Ctr Appl Ecotoxicol, Dubendorf, Switzerland.
17 : Swiss Fed Inst Technol, Dept Environm Syst Sci, Swiss Fed Inst Technol, Zurich, Switzerland.
18 : EPF Lausanne, Sch Architecture Civil & Environm Engn, Lausanne, Switzerland.
19 : Univ Piemonte Orientale Vercelli Novara Alessandr, Dept Environm & Life Sci, Alessandria, Italy.
Source Toxicological Sciences (1096-6080) (Oxford Univ Press), 2014-09 , Vol. 141 , N. 1 , P. 218-233
DOI 10.1093/toxsci/kfu118
WOS© Times Cited 79
Keyword(s) bioassays, effects, mixtures, ecotoxicology, biomarkers

The risk posed by complex chemical mixtures in the environment to wildlife and humans is increasingly debated, but has been rarely tested under environmentally relevant scenarios. To address this issue, two mixtures of 14 or 19 substances of concern (pesticides, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, a surfactant, and a plasticizer), each present at its safety limit concentration imposed by the European legislation, were prepared and tested for their toxic effects. The effects of the mixtures were assessed in 35 bioassays, based on 11 organisms representing different trophic levels. A consortium of 16 laboratories was involved in performing the bioassays. The mixtures elicited quantifiable toxic effects on some of the test systems employed, including i) changes in marine microbial composition, ii) microalgae toxicity, iii) immobilization in the crustacean Daphnia magna, iv) fish embryo toxicity, v) impaired frog embryo development, and vi) increased expression on oxidative stress-linked reporter genes. Estrogenic activity close to regulatory safety limit concentrations was uncovered by receptor-binding assays. The results highlight the need of precautionary actions on the assessment of chemical mixtures even in cases where individual toxicants are present at seemingly harmless concentrations.

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Carvalho Raquel N., Arukwe Augustine, Ait-Aissa Selim, Bado-Nilles Anne, Balzamo Stefania, Baun Anders, Belkin Shimshon, Blaha Ludek, Brion Francois, Conti Daniela, Creusot Nicolas, Essig Yona, Ferrero Valentina E. V., Flander-Putrle Vesna, Furhacker Maria, Grillari-Voglauer Regina, Hogstrand Christer, Jonas Adam, Kharlyngdoh Joubert B., Loos Robert, Lundebye Anne-Katrine, Modig Carina, Olsson Per-Erik, Pillai Smitha, Polak Natasa, Potalivo Monica, Sanchez Wilfried, Schifferli Andrea, Schirmer Kristin, Sforzini Susanna, Sturzenbaum Stephen R., Softeland Liv, Turk Valentina, Viarengo Aldo, Werner Inge, Yagur-Kroll Sharon, Zounkova Radka, Lettieri Teresa (2014). Mixtures of Chemical Pollutants at European Legislation Safety Concentrations: How Safe Are They? Toxicological Sciences, 141(1), 218-233. Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kfu118 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00499/61115/