Emerging contaminant occurrence and toxic effects on zebrafish embryos to assess the adverse effects caused by mixtures of substances in the environment

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The contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) have been receiving global attention due to their worldwide presence in water bodies. The CECs could be originated from synthetic or natural sources, and they are not commonly monitored, although these substances are continuously reaching the aquatic environment. The main goal of this study was to determine the occurrence of some target CECs in São Paulo state surface water, once there is practically no information on the presence and concentration range of these substances at the studied sites. In addition, the present study aimed to assess adverse effects in the non-target fish embryo of Danio rerio (zebrafish) after exposure to surface water organic extract samples during 96 h using FET test. The CECs in surface water samples were determined by solid-phase extraction and liquid chromatography coupled by mass spectrometry. A 2-year study was assessed in 7 rivers and 3 reservoirs at São Paulo state, where 25 of the 30 analyzed substances were quantified, being caffeine the substance with the highest concentration range (5.5 ng L−1 to 69 μg L−1) and detected in 95% of analyzed samples, followed by bisphenol A (6.5–1300 ng L−1) and carbendazim (4.7–285 ng L−1), found in 50% and 85% of the analyzed samples, respectively. The chemical analysis and biological test were not performed in order to show a direct relationship between concentrations and observed effects on embryos; however, the combined approach can provide a better understanding of the adverse effects caused by mixtures of substances at relevant environmental concentrations. Regarding the adverse effects, it was observed that in the samples from sites with higher anthropogenic activity in the surroundings, there was also a higher mortality rate in organisms. At the Ribeirão Pires River and Sapucaí-Guaçu River, the mortality rate during the 2-year study was 21.6% and 9.3%, respectively. The morphological abnormality rates were higher at Ribeirão Grande (21.4%) and Ribeirão Pires (29.5%) Rivers. The obtained results aim to show that even in low concentrations (ng–μg L−1) the CECs can cause adverse effects on non-target species, and because of that, new chemical indicators would be important to monitor the water quality and protect the aquatic biota.
Martini GA, Montagner CC, Viveiros W, Quinaglia GA, França DD, Munin NCG, et al. Emerging contaminant occurrence and toxic effects on zebrafish embryos to assess the adverse effects caused by mixtures of substances in the environment. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021 Jan;28:20313–20329. doi:10.1007/s11356-020-11963-x.
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