Acute and Chronic Toxicity of Technical-Grade Pesticides to Glochidia and Juveniles of Freshwater Mussels (Unionidae)


Chemical contaminants are among many potential factors involved in the decline of freshwater mussel populations in North America, and the effects of pesticides on early life stages of unionid mussels are largely unknown. The objective of this study was to determine the toxicity of technical‐grade current‐use pesticides to glochidia and juvenile life stages of freshwater mussels. We performed acute toxicity tests with glochidia (five species) and juveniles (two species) exposed to a suite of current‐use pesticides including herbicides (atrazine and pendimethalin), insecticides (fipronil and permethrin), and a reference toxicant (NaCl). Because of limited availability of test organisms, not all species were tested with all pesticides. Toxicity tests with fungicides (chlorothalonil, propiconazole, and pyraclostrobin) were performed with one species (Lampsilis siliquoidea). Lampsilis siliquoidea glochidia and juveniles were highly sensitive to the fungicides tested but the technical‐grade herbicides and insecticides, at concentrations approaching water solubility, were not acutely toxic to this or the other unionid species. In a 21‐d chronic test with four‐month‐old juvenile L. siliquoidea, the 21‐d median effective concentration (EC50) with atrazine was 4.3 mg/L and in atrazine treatments ≥3.8 mg/L mussel growth was significantly less than controls. The relatively high sensitivity of L. siliquoidea to chlorothalonil, propiconazole, and pyraclostrobin is similar to that reported for other aquatic organisms commonly used for toxicity testing. The relative risk associated with acute exposure of early life stages of mussels to technical‐grade atrazine, pendimethalin, fipronil, and permethrin is likely low; however, survival and growth results with juvenile L. siliquoidea indicate that chronic exposure to high concentrations (≥3.8 mg/L) of atrazine may have the potential to impact mussel populations and warrants further investigation.



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Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: An International Journal