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Plastic is drastic

Highly produced synthetic chemicals in the world used in the production of plastics have endocrine-disrupting (ED) effects in a variety of organisms, and being released into surface and ground waters, may pose the risk to freshwater ecosystems. Using freshwater ostracods (Ostracoda) to qualify ecological effects of ED compounds seems to be beneficial as these benthic microcrustaceans have been shown to be sensitive to toxic chemicals.

Ostracods are tiny crustaceans that live in most aquatic habitats in all marine and freshwater ecoregions of the world and have various important applications, they are known as one of the best palaeoenvironmental indicators. However, in recent years their value as sentinels of anthropogenically induced deteriorations of freshwaters, including different types of pollution, has also been recognised. Several laboratory experiments show high sensitivity of various non-marine ostracod species to heavy metals, pesticides or herbicides. Recently, there has been growing interest in testing and learning the potential risk ECDs may pose to freshwater ecosystems. The most highly produced synthetic chemicals in the world with endocrine-disrupting effects are bisphenol A (BPA) used in the production of polycarbonate plastics or epoxy resins, and benzotriazole (BTA) used as a corrosion inhibitor. The use of benthic ostracods, which may be exposed to higher BPA and BTA concentrations compared to pelagic species, allows better understanding of the relationship between bioavailability of these potentially hazardous substances and their ecotoxicological effects. Whole-life-cycle tests are of outermost importance because they cover all sensitive stages and enlarge diversity of endpoints of potential toxicant effects.

​The present project “Monitoring endocrine disruptors in surface waters of central Spain using toxicity and life history ostracod tests” aims at qualifying ecological effects and their application to toxicity testing of BPA and BTA on freshwater ostracods by performing laboratory experiments, including both, short- and long-term toxicity tests. In the short-term acute tests standard values that can be used for determining water quality will be assessed. In the partial- and whole-life-cycle tests several life history traits (hatching success, development time, survival, fecundity) will be monitored via exposure of water containing BPA and BTA at environmentally relevant concentrations. Final results of this study are intended to be used for developing standardized guidelines for testing toxicity of selected EDC on development and reproduction of freshwater ostracods, which eventually could be used as a support monitoring method for environmental risk assessment.

The project is led by Tadeusz Namiotko, PhD in Biology and Professor at the University of Gdańsk (Poland). Dr. Namiotko is staying at IMDEA Water and University of Alcalá in the framework of the aids for visiting researchers incorporation (chairs of excellence program) belonging to the Program of Attraction of Community of Madrid.