Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 19, pp 19795–19803 | Cite as

Derivation of the predicted no-effect concentration for organophosphate esters and the associated ecological risk in surface water in China

  • Liqun Xing
  • Lichao Wang
  • Bin Xu
  • Aimin LiEmail author
Research Article


Organophosphate esters (OPEs), as re-emerging contaminants considered to be a potential health concern, are ubiquitous in the environment and have been widely investigated. However, little is known on the safe OPE concentrations in the water quality criteria for the protection of the aquatic environment, which is an indispensable part of environmental management. In the present study, aquatic acute and chronic predicted no-effect concentrations (PNECs) of six frequently detected OPEs were derived from the hazardous concentrations for 5% of species (HC5s), respectively. The acute PNECs for the selected OPEs ranged from 17.70 to 3562 μg/L, while the chronic PNECs ranged from 4.6 × 10−4 to 61.85 μg/L. Among these OPEs, tricresyl phosphate (TCrP) exhibited the lowest acute PNEC, while tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TDCPP) presented chronic PNEC, which indicated that it has a higher toxicity effect on the aquatic environment. Furthermore, the aquatic ecological risks of individual OPEs (except for TDCPP) were deemed to be relatively low in Chinese surface water; however, the aquatic ecological risks of TDCPP and ΣOPEs indicated that they have potential adverse effects and should be considered as a potential health concern. The probability of 5% of aquatic organisms being affected by ΣOPEs was in the range of 0.21 to 17.39% based on the joint probability curve method.


Organophosphate esters PNEC Species sensitivity distribution Joint probability 


Funding information

This work was funded by the National Major Project of Science & Technology Ministry of China (No. 2017ZX07602-004).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_5236_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.4 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1448 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, School of the EnvironmentNanjing UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.Nanjing University & Yancheng Academy of Environmental Protection Technology and EngineeringYanchengChina
  3. 3.Nanjing Institute of Environmental SciencesMinistry of Environmental ProtectionNanjingChina

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