Lower tier toxicity risk assessment of agriculture pesticides detected on the Río Madre de Dios watershed, Costa Rica

M. Arias-Andrés*, R. Rämö, F. Mena Torres, R. Ugalde, L. Grandas, C. Ruepert, L.E. Castillo, P.J. van Den Brink, J.S. Gunnarsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Costa Rica is a tropical country with one of the highest biodiversity on Earth. It also has an intensive agriculture, and pesticide runoff from banana and pineapple plantations may cause a high toxicity risk to non-target species in rivers downstream the plantations. We performed a first tier risk assessment of the maximum measured concentrations of 32 pesticides detected over 4 years in the River Madre de Dios (RMD) and its coastal lagoon on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Species sensitivity distributions (SSDs) were plotted in order to derive HC5 values for each pesticide, i.e., hazard concentrations for 5 % of the species, often used as environmental criteria values in other countries. We also carried out toxicity tests for selected pesticides with native Costa Rican species in order to calculate risk coefficients according to national guidelines in Costa Rica. The concentrations of herbicides diuron and ametryn and insecticides carbofuran, diazinon, and ethoprophos exceeded either the HC5 value or the lower limit of its 90 % confidence interval suggesting toxic risks above accepted levels. Risk coefficients of diuron and carbofuran derived using local guidelines indicate toxicity risks as well. The assessed fungicides did not present acute toxic risks according to our analysis. Overall, these results show a possible toxicity of detected pesticides to aquatic organisms and provide a comparison of Costa Rican national guidelines with more refined methods for risk assessment based on SSDs. Further higher tier risk assessments of pesticides in this watershed are also necessary in order to consider pesticide water concentrations over time, toxicity from pesticide mixtures, and eventual effects on ecosystem functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13312-13321
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number14
Early online date25 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Ecotoxicology
  • Pesticides
  • Risk assessment
  • Tropics


Dive into the research topics of 'Lower tier toxicity risk assessment of agriculture pesticides detected on the Río Madre de Dios watershed, Costa Rica'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this