Effects of malathion and carbendazim on Amazonian freshwater organisms: comparison of tropical and temperate species sensitivity distributions and water quality criteria

A. Rico Artero, A.V. Waichman, R. Geber-Correa, P.J. van den Brink

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52 Citations (Scopus)


The risk assessment of pesticides for freshwater ecosystems in the Amazon has relied on the use of toxicity data and water quality criteria derived for temperate regions due to a lack of ecotoxicological studies performed with indigenous species. This leaves an unknown margin of uncertainty for the protection of Amazonian ecosystems, as differences in environmental conditions and species sensitivity are not taken into account. To address this issue, the acute toxic effects of malathion (an organophosphorus insecticide) and carbendazim (a benzimidazole fungicide) were assessed on five fish and five freshwater invertebrates endemic to the Amazonian region. Subsequently, the intrinsic sensitivity of Amazonian and temperate freshwater species was compared using the species sensitivity distribution (SSD) concept. Amazonian species sensitivity to malathion was found to be similar to that of their temperate counterparts, with LC50 values ranging between 111 and 1507 g/l for fish species and 2.1426 g/l for arthropod species. However, Amazonian fish appeared to be slightly less sensitive for carbendazim than temperate fish with LC50 values ranging between 1648 and 4238 g/l, and Amazonian invertebrates were found to be significantly more resistant than their temperate counterparts, with LC50 values higher than 16000 g/l. The results of this study suggest that for these compounds, the use of water quality criteria derived with laboratory toxicity data for temperate species will result in a sufficient protection level for Amazonian freshwater organisms. Recommendations for further research include the validation of threshold concentrations derived with temperate standard test species and with the SSD model with semi-field experiments considering larger assemblages of indigenous species under local environmental conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-634
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011



  • aquatic ecosystems
  • brazilian amazon
  • risk-assessment
  • rainbow-trout
  • pesticides
  • toxicity
  • invertebrates
  • macroinvertebrates
  • ecotoxicology
  • environment

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