Toxicity of POEA-containing glyphosate-based herbicides to amphibians is mainly due to the surfactant, not to the active ingredient


Current international legislation regarding agrochemicals requires thorough toxicological testing mainly of the active ingredients. In a 96-h acute toxicity test we exposed Rana dalmatina and Bufo bufo tadpoles to either one of three concentrations of glyphosate, three concentrations of the surfactant (POEA), three concentrations of the two components together, or to non-contaminated water (control), and subsequently assessed mortality and body mass. To investigate whether simultaneous exposure to another stress factor influences effects of the contaminants, we performed tests both in the presence or absence of predator chemical cues. We found that the surfactant had significant harmful effects on tadpoles; survival was lowered by the highest concentration of the surfactant in case of R. dalmatina, while in B. bufo tadpoles it reduced survival already at medium concentrations. Body mass was significantly influenced by medium and high surfactant concentrations in both species. The presence of glyphosate did not have a significant effect by itself, but it slightly increased mortality in tadpoles exposed to medium concentrations of the surfactant in both species. The presence of chemical cues did not have an effect on the examined variables. Our study confirms that the toxicity of glyphosate-based herbicides is mainly due to the examined surfactant. Nonetheless, we found that glyphosate can enhance the harmful effect of the surfactant. These results stress that during the authorization process of new pesticide formulations, not only the active ingredients would need to be examined but the excipients should also be taken into account in an obligatory and systematic manner.

Authors: Zsanett Mikó, Attila Hettyey
; Full Source: Ecotoxicology (London, England) 2023 Jan 21. doi: 10.1007/s10646-023-02626-x.