Fate and effects of sediment-associated triclosan in subtropical freshwater microcosms

Fengjiao Peng, Nöel Diepens, Changgui Pan, Sally Bracewell, Guangguo Ying, Daniel Salvito, Henriette Selck, Paul van den Brink

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Triclosan (TCS) is an antibacterial agent that is commonly used in personal care products. Because of its sediment-binding properties, TCS exposure presents a potential threat to sediment-dwelling aquatic organisms. Currently our knowledge of the fate and effects of sediment-associated TCS in aquatic systems is limited. To understand the impact of sediment-associated TCS, we used microcosms to assess effects of TCS exposure on a diverse range of organisms selected to mimic a subtropical community, with an exposure period of 28 days. We included the oligochaete freshwater worm Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri to evaluate the interaction between sediment-associated TCS and sediment-dwelling organisms, including potential loss of TCS from the sediment due to biological activity and bioaccumulation. Benthic macroinvertebrate presence significantly increased the TCS levels from 0.013 ± 0.007 μg/L to 0.613 ± 0.030 μg/L in the overlying water through biological activity, posing a potential additional risk to pelagic species, but it did not result in a significant reduction of the sediment concentration. Furthermore, worms accumulated TCS with estimated Biota-Sediment-Accumulation-Factors (BSAFs) ranging between 0.38-3.55. Other than for algae, TCS at environmental concentrations did not affect the survival of the introduced organisms, including the L. hoffmeisteri. Our results demonstrate that, although TCS at currently detected maximum concentration may not have observable toxic effects on the benthic macroinvertebrates in the short term, it can lead to bioaccumulation in worms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Issue number202
Pages (from-to)117-225
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


  • Benthic macroinvertebrates
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Dissipation
  • Partitioning
  • Toxicity

Cite this

Peng, F., Diepens, N., Pan, C., Bracewell, S., Ying, G., Salvito, D., Selck, H., & van den Brink, P. (2018). Fate and effects of sediment-associated triclosan in subtropical freshwater microcosms. Aquatic Toxicology, 2018(202), 117-225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aquatox.2018.07.008