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Assessing the Mixture Effects in In Vitro Bioassays of Chemicals Occurring in Small Agricultural Streams during Rain Events

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posted on 22.06.2020, 10:03 by Peta A. Neale, Georg Braun, Werner Brack, Eric Carmona, Roman Gunold, Maria König, Martin Krauss, Liana Liebmann, Matthias Liess, Moritz Link, Ralf B. Schäfer, Rita Schlichting, Verena C. Schreiner, Tobias Schulze, Philipp Vormeier, Oliver Weisner, Beate I. Escher
Rain events may impact the chemical pollution burden in rivers. Forty-four small streams in Germany were profiled during several rain events for the presence of 395 chemicals and five types of mixture effects in in vitro bioassays (cytotoxicity; activation of the estrogen, aryl hydrocarbon, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors; and oxidative stress response). While these streams were selected to cover a wide range of agricultural impacts, in addition to the expected pesticides, wastewater-derived chemicals and chemicals typical for street runoff were detected. The unexpectedly high estrogenic effects in many samples indicated the impact by wastewater or overflow of combined sewer systems. The 128 water samples exhibited a high diversity of chemical and effect patterns, even for different rain events at the same site. The detected 290 chemicals explained only a small fraction (<8%) of the measured effects. The experimental effects of the designed mixtures of detected chemicals that were expected to dominate the mixture effects of detected chemicals were consistent with predictions for concentration addition within a factor of two for 94% of the mixtures. Overall, the burden of chemicals and effects was much higher than that previously detected in surface water during dry weather, with the effects often exceeding proposed effect-based trigger values.