Acute and Chronic Toxicity of Pesticide Formulations (Atrazine, Chlorpyrifos, and Permethrin) to Glochidia and Juveniles of Lampsilis Siliquoidea


Freshwater mussels are among the most imperiled faunal groups in North America; approximately 67% of the nearly 300 native freshwater mussel species (family Unionidae) are listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern. Despite evidence that glochidia and juvenile life stages are highly sensitive to some chemical contaminants, the effects of pesticides on early life stages of unionid mussels are largely unknown. In the United States, pesticide registration is based on toxicity data of the active ingredient, not formulations as they are sold and applied. Some pesticide formulations, however, are more toxic than their active ingredient (technical-grade pesticide) alone because of the presence of surfactants, adjuvants, or other ingredients in the formulation. The objective of the present study was to compare the toxicity of active ingredients of several current-use pesticides (atrazine, chlorpyrifos, and permethrin) to the toxicity of pesticide formulations to glochidia and juvenile life stages of a freshwater mussel (Lampsilis siliquoidea). The atrazine formulation (Aatrex) was more toxic than technical-grade atrazine in chronic tests with juvenile L. siliquoidea. For other pesticides, acute and chronic toxicity of technical-grade pesticides were similar to the toxicity of pesticide formulations. Median effective concentrations for chlorpyrifos were 0.43 mg/L for glochidia at 48 h, 0.25 mg/L for juveniles at 96 h, and 0.06 mg/L for juveniles at 21 d. Atrazine and permethrin as well as their formulations did not cause significant acute toxicity in glochidia or juveniles at exposure concentrations approaching water-solubility limits. Additional research is needed on other pesticides with different modes of action, on the role of different routes of exposure, and with other species of unionid mussels to evaluate similarities of toxic response.



Document Type





herbicides, insecticides, early life stage, growth

Publication Date


Journal Title

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry