, Volume 28, Issue 7, pp 843–851 | Cite as

A major release of urban untreated wastewaters in the St. Lawrence River (Quebec, Canada) altered growth, reproduction, and redox status in experimentally exposed Daphnia magna

  • M. GiraudoEmail author
  • T.-L. L. Colson
  • M. Pilote
  • C. Gagnon
  • P. Gagnon
  • M. Houde


In 2015, five billion liters of untreated urban wastewater (UWW) were released into the St. Lawrence River (Quebec, Canada) over the course of four days in order to repair the Montreal’s sewer interceptor network related to the city’s primary wastewater treatment plant. The UWW discharge originated mainly from household, industrial, and hospital sources. The objective of this study was to investigate the toxicological effects of this unprecedented punctual UWW release on aquatic invertebrates to gather information that could help understand the potential impacts to the receiving environment of overflow episodes occurring during heavy rain events. Water samples were collected at four impacted and non-impacted sites during and four weeks after the release. The freshwater crustacean Daphnia magna were experimentally exposed to surface water collected from UWW-impacted sites for 13 days and analyzed for life-history endpoints and suitable biomarkers related to oxidative stress (i.e., catalase, superoxide dismutase, lipid peroxidation, and glutathione-s-transferase) and reproduction (chitinase). Results indicated that D. magna growth and reproduction were significantly increased by exposure to UWWs. These effects were correlated with an increase in chitinase activity, which is primarily controlled by reproductive hormones and involved in growth, suggesting potential impacts on these processes. Results also indicated that some UWW samples might have caused oxidative stress during the release but that it was overcome by antioxidant defenses and did not lead to cellular damage. Overall, current results contribute to a better understanding of the biological impacts of UWW to aquatic invertebrates for a better stormwater management.


Overflow Untreated municipal wastewater Oxidative stress Growth Reproduction 



The authors would like to thank Chantale André and Michel Arseneau for water sampling, Patrice Turcotte for chemical sites characterization, as well as Mélanie Lépine and Mélanie Douville for D. magna exposure. This project was financed by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10646_2019_2084_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary Information


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Copyright information

© Crown 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Giraudo
    • 1
    Email author
  • T.-L. L. Colson
    • 1
  • M. Pilote
    • 1
  • C. Gagnon
    • 1
  • P. Gagnon
    • 1
  • M. Houde
    • 1
  1. 1.Environment and Climate Change CanadaAquatic Contaminants Research DivisionMontrealCanada

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