Whole Effluent Toxicity Assessment of Industrial Effluents

  • Takashi Kusui
  • Yasuyuki Itatsu
  • Jun Jin
Part of the Methods in Pharmacology and Toxicology book series (MIPT)


Direct discharge of industrial effluents into aquatic ecosystems continues to be an important area of concern because of potential ecotoxic impact on biota in receiving water. Biological tests with aquatic organisms have the capacity to respond to chemicals and quantify their effects even if they are present as mixtures or are unidentified. To compensate for the shortcomings of traditional effluent regulation, whole-effluent toxicity (WET) testing was introduced in the USA, Canada, European countries, and South Korea. Additionally, to reduce the toxicity levels detected in effluents, a procedure called toxicity reduction evaluation (TRE) was proposed. Based on the lessons learnt in the implementation of WET testing in these countries, this approach, involving chronic assays, was suggested for introduction in Japan. Here, we present a short review on the bioassay-based regulations and biological methods prevalent in these countries. Furthermore, we introduce two case studies from Japan. The first study reports on short-chronic assays used as WET tests whereas the second discusses TRE and the application of toxicity identification evaluation (TIE) to identify causative factors, employing a combination of biological tests and physiochemical manipulations. We also discuss simple and rapid bioassays for routine monitoring of effluent toxicity.

Key words

Whole-effluent toxicity (WET) Bioassay Industrial effluent Toxicity reduction evaluation (TRE) Toxicity identification evaluation (TIE) 



The authors thank Dr. Christian Blaise for helpful comments on the manuscript.



x percentage of effective concentration


x percentage of inhibitory concentration


No observed effect concentration


Toxicity identification evaluation


Toxicity reduction evaluation


Chronic toxicity unit


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© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental and Civil EngineeringToyama Prefectural UniversityImizuJapan

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