An assessment of the toxicity of phthalate esters to freshwater benthos. 1. Aqueous exposures

Daniel J. Call, Thomas P. Markee, Dianne L. Geiger, Larry T. Brooke, Fred A. VandeVenter, Dean A. Cox, Kristen I. Genisot, Kenneth A. Robillard, Joseph W. Gorsuch, Thomas F. Parkerton, Mary C. Reiley, Gerald T. Ankley, David R. Mount

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55 Scopus citations


Tests were performed with the freshwater invertebrates Hyalella azteca, Chironomus tentans, and Lumbriculus variegatus to determine the acute toxicity of six phthalate esters, including dimethyl phthalate (DMP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP), di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHP), and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). It was possible to derive 10-d LC50 (lethal concentration for 50% of the population) values only for the four lower molecular weight esters (DMP, DEP, DBP, and BBP), for which toxicity increased with increasing octanol-water partition coefficient (Kow) and decreasing water solubility. The LC50 values for DMP, DEP, DBP, and BBP were 28.1, 4.21, 0.63, and 0.46 mg/L for H. azteca; 68.2, 31.0, 2.64, and >1.76 mg/L for C. tentans; and 246, 102, 2.48, and 1.23 mg/L for L. variegatus, respectively. No significant survival reductions were observed when the three species were exposed to either DHP or DEHP at concentrations approximating their water solubilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1798-1804
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2001


  • Benthos
  • Freshwater
  • Phthalates
  • Toxicity


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