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Application of the Sea Urchin Embryo Test in Toxicity Evaluation and Effect-Directed Analysis of Wastewater Treatment Plant Effluents

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posted on 28.06.2020, 15:43 authored by Leire Mijangos, Martin Krauss, Laura de Miguel, Haizea Ziarrusta, Maitane Olivares, Olatz Zuloaga, Urtzi Izagirre, Tobias Schulze, Werner Brack, Ailette Prieto, Nestor Etxebarria
Sea urchin embryo assay was used to assess general toxicity at four wastewater treatment plant effluents of Biscay (Gorliz, Mungia, Gernika, and Galindo), and within the tested range, all the extracts showed embryo growth inhibition and skeleton malformation activities with EC50 values, in relative enrichment factor units, between 1.1–16.8 and 1.1–8.8, respectively. To identify the causative compounds, effect-directed analysis was successfully applied for the first time using a sea urchin embryo test to the secondary treatment of the Galindo effluent. To this end, two subsequent fractionation steps were performed using C18 (21 fractions) and aminopropyl columns (15 fractions). By this fractionation, the number of features detected by LC–HRMS in the raw sample was drastically reduced from 1500 to 9, and among them, two pesticides (mexacarbate, 17 ng/L, and fenpropidin, 23 ng/L), two antidepressants (amitriptyline, 304 ng/L, and paroxetine, 26 ng/L), and two anthelmintic agents (mebendazole, 65 ng/L, and albendazole, 48 ng/L) could be identified in the two toxic fractions. The artificial mixture of the identified six compounds could explain 79% of the observed effect, with albendazole and paroxetine as the predominant contributors (49% and 49%, respectively) affecting the sea urchin embryogenesis activity.

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