, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 803–808 | Cite as

Marine environmental risk assessment and acute water quality criterion for pentachlorophenol in coastal waters

  • R. Beiras
  • T. Tato


Pentachlorophenol (PCP) is a organochlorine biocide that, unlike most other organochlorines, is still in use as timber preservative. Its water solubility, high toxicity, bioaccumulation potential, and the concentrations reported in estuarine waters (up to 0.1 µg L−1) indicate it may pose a risk in coastal environments. Aquatic environrmental regulations are commonly based on standard freshwater organisms that may not represent the sensitivity of marine species. The present study consists of a water quality criteira reevalutation of PCP in coastal waters based on toxicity tests conducted recording sensitive endpoints of marine species representative of coastal ecosystems, following QA/QC standard procedures. The toxicity thresholds (EC10) found were 4.69 µg L−1 for Paracentrotus lividus sea-urchin embryos, 6.47 µg L−1 for Mytilus galloprovincialis mussel larvae, and 78.4 µg L−1 for Isochrysis galbana cells. Therefore, there is only one order of magnitude between the predicted no-effect concentration (PNEC) for early life stages of bivalves and echinoderms and the maximum concentrations actually recorded in coastal water, which yields a remarkable risk quotient for PCP in these highly productive marine habitats. In addition, we have reviewed the ecotoxicological data on PCP toxicity on marine species representative of the main systematic groups, from algae to chordates, and derived a probabilistic acute saltwater quality criterion of 2.66 µg L−1, intended to protect 95% of the marine species. Lack of adequate protection for marine ecosystems in some current PCP national guidelines has been identified.


Water quality criteria Species sensitivity distribution Early life stages Marine species Acute toxicity Pentachlorophenol 



This work was funded by MINECO (Spanish Government) through the Research Projects PCIN-2015-187-C03-03 and CTM2016-77945-C3-1-R. The authors acknowledge Nuria Trigo and all the staff of ECIMAT for their helpful technical support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ECIMATUniversidade de VigoGaliciaSpain

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