Chronic toxicity of an environmentally relevant mixture of pharmaceuticals to three aquatic organisms (alga, daphnid, and fish)

Haruna Watanabe, Ikumi Tamura, Ryoko Abe, Hitomi Takanobu, Ataru Nakamura, Toshinari Suzuki, Akihiko Hirose, Tetsuji Nishimura, Norihisa Tatarazako

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    73 Citations (Scopus)


    Principles of concentration addition and independent action have been used as effective tools to predict mixture toxicity based on individual component toxicity. The authors investigated the toxicity of a pharmaceutical mixture composed of the top 10 detected active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in the Tama River (Tokyo, Japan) in a relevant concentration ratio. Both individual and mixture toxicities of the 10 APIs were evaluated by 3 short-term chronic toxicity tests using the alga Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata, the daphnid Ceriodaphnia dubia, and the zebrafish Danio rerio. With the exception of clarithromycin toxicity to alga, the no-observed-effect concentration of individual APIs for each test species was dramatically higher than the highest concentration of APIs found in the environment. The mixture of 10 APIs resulted in toxicity to alga, daphnid, and fish at 6.25 times, 100 times, and 15000 times higher concentrations, respectively, than the environmental concentrations of individual APIs. Predictions by concentration addition and independent action were nearly identical for alga, as clarithromycin was the predominant toxicant in the mixture. Both predictions described the observed mixture toxicity to alga fairly well, whereas they slightly underestimated the observed mixture toxicity in the daphnid test. In the fish embryo test, the observed toxicity fell between the predicted toxicity by concentration addition and independent action. These results suggested that the toxicity of environmentally relevant pharmaceutical mixtures could be predicted by individual toxicity using either concentration addition or independent action.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)996-1006
    Number of pages11
    JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016


    • Concentration addition
    • Independent action
    • Mixture toxicity
    • Pharmaceutical
    • Short-term chronic toxicity test

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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