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Development of a freshwater aquatic toxicity database for ambient water quality criteria for methyl tertiary-butyl ether

You are viewing information about the paper Development of a freshwater aquatic toxicity database for ambient water quality criteria for methyl tertiary-butyl ether.

Journal: Environ Toxicol Chem 2001/05/08
Published: 2001
Authors: Wong, D. C.;Arnold, W. R.;Rausina, G. A.;Mancini, E. R.;Steen, A. E.
Address: Equilon Enterprises, LLC, 3333 Highway 6 South, Houston, Texas 77082, USA. dclwong@equilontech.com

The detection of methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) in groundwater and surface water in recent years has drawn attention to its potential effects in aquatic ecosystems. To address concerns regarding MTBE environmental effects and to establish safe concentrations in surface waters, a collaborative effort was initiated in 1997 to develop aquatic toxicity databases sufficient to derive ambient water quality criteria for MTBE consistent with United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) requirements. Acute toxicity data for six species, chronic toxicity data for a fish and an invertebrate, and plant toxicity data were developed in order to complete the freshwater database. The toxicity tests followed U.S. EPA and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM, Philadelphia, PA, USA) procedures and were conducted in accordance with U.S. EPA Good Laboratory Practice guidelines. Based on measured exposure concentrations, acute toxicity endpoints ranged from 472 to 1742 mg MTBE/L, while chronic endpoints (IC25) were 57 to 308 mg MTBE/L. Aquatic invertebrates were generally more sensitive than fish to MTBE in both acute and chronic exposures. Acute-to-chronic ratios for fathead minnows and Daphnia magna were 3.4 and 11.3, respectively. The measured acute and chronic toxicity were within a 10-fold factor of toxicity predicted from quantitative structure-activity relationships for baseline toxicity or nonpolar narcosis typical of ether compounds. The data developed in this study were consistent with existing data and showed that MTBE has low acute and chronic toxicity to freshwater organisms. Reported environmental concentrations of MTBE are several orders of magnitude lower than concentrations observed to cause effects in freshwater organisms.

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