In vitro bioassays reveal that additives are significant contributors to the toxicity of commercial household pesticides

Pesticides commonly used around households can contain additives of unknown concentrations and toxicity. Given the likelihood of these chemicals washing into urban waterways, it is important to understand the effects that these additives may have on aquatic organisms. The aim of this study was to compare the toxicity of commercially available household pesticides to that of the active ingredient(s) alone. The toxicity of five household pesticides (three herbicides and two insecticides) was investigated using a bacterial cytotoxicity bioassay and an algal photosynthesis bioassay. The commercial products were up to an order of magnitude more toxic than the active ingredient(s) alone. In addition, two commercial products with the same listed active ingredients in the same ratio had a 600× difference in potency. These results clearly demonstrate that additives in commercial formulations are significant contributors to the toxicity of household pesticides. The toxicity of pesticides in aquatic systems is therefore likely underestimated by conventional chemical monitoring and risk assessment when only the active ingredients are considered. Regulators and customers should require more clarity from pesticide manufacturers about the nature and concentrations of not only the active ingredients, but also additives used in commercial formulations. In addition, monitoring programmes and chemical risk assessments schemes should develop a structured approach to assessing the toxic effects of commercial formulations, including additives, rather than simply those of the listed active ingredients.

Authors: van de Merwe JP, Neale PA, Melvin SD, Leusch FDL. ; Full Source: Aquatic Toxicology. 2018 Jun; 199:263-268. doi: 10.1016/j.aquatox.2018.03.033. Epub 2018 Mar 28.

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