H.G. van der Geest
W.P. de Voogt
- Toxic pressure of herbicides on microalgae in Dutch estuarine and coastal waters
- Journal of Sea Research
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
For several decades now, there has been an increase in the sources and types of chemicals in estuarine and coastal waters as a consequence of anthropogenic activities. This has led to considerable concern about the effects of these chemicals on the marine food chain. The fact is that estuarine and coastal waters are the most productive ecosystems with high primary production by microalgae. The toxic pressure of specific phytotoxic chemicals now poses a major threat to these ecosystems.
In a previous study, six herbicides (atrazine, diuron, irgarol, isoproturon, terbutryn and terbutylazine) were identified as the main contaminants affecting photosynthesis in marine microalgae. The purpose of this study is to investigate the toxic pressure of these herbicides in the Dutch estuarine and coastal waters in relation to the effective photosystem II efficiency (ΦPSII) in microalgae. Temporal and spatial variations in the concentrations of these herbicides were analyzed based on monitoring data. Additionally, a field study was carried out in which chemical analysis of water was performed and also a toxicity assessment using the Pulse Amplitude Modulation (PAM) fluorometry assay that measures ΦPSII. The toxic pressure on ΦPSII in microalgae has decreased with 55-82% from 2003 to 2012, with the Western Scheldt estuary showing the highest toxic pressure. By combining toxicity data from the PAM assay with chemical analysis of herbicide concentrations, we have identified diuron and terbutylazine as the main contributors to the toxic pressure on microalgae. Although direct effects are not expected, the toxic pressure is close to the 10% effect level in the PAM assay. A compliance check with the current environmental legislation of the European Union revealed that the quality standards are not sufficient to protect marine microalgae.
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