Lethal and sublethal toxicity of the antifoulant compound Irgarol 1051 to the mud snail Ilyanassa obsoleta.

Research paper by Meaghean C MC Finnegan, Sherry S Pittman, Marie E ME DeLorenzo

Indexed on: 07 May '08Published on: 07 May '08Published in: Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology


Irgarol 1051 is an algistatic compound used in copper-based antifoulant paints. It is a widespread and persistent pollutant of the estuarine environment. Ilyanassa obsoleta, the Eastern mud snail, is a common intertidal gastropod that inhabits mud flats and salt marshes along the east coast of North America. It is an important inhabitant of the estuarine environment; contributing to nutrient regeneration and regulating microbial processes in the sediments. The toxicity of irgarol to estuarine gastropods has not been previously examined, although they have the potential to be exposed to antifoulants through both aqueous and sediment routes. The objectives of this study were to evaluate irgarol's effects on I. obsoleta survival, reproductive status (imposex occurrence and testosterone levels), chemoreceptive function, and cellular respiration (cytochrome-c oxidase activity). Irgarol was moderately toxic to I. obsoleta; adult aqueous 96-h LC(50) = 3.73 mg/L, larval aqueous 96-h LC(50) = 3.16 mg/L, and adult sediment 10-day LC(50) = 12.21 mg/kg. Larval snails were not significantly more sensitive to irgarol than adult snails. A chronic 45-day aqueous irgarol exposure (0.005-2.5 mg/L) did not induce imposex or affect free-testosterone levels. The 45-day chronic LC(50 )of 1.88 mg/L was significantly lower than the 96-h acute value. A 96-h acute aqueous irgarol exposure (0.375-1.5 mg/L) caused a decrease in normal response to chemosensory cues such as the presence of food or predators. There was a significant increase in cytochrome-c oxidase activity at 2.5 mg/L, which might indicate irgarol's disruption of the mitochondrial membrane and subsequently ATP synthesis. Although the toxicity values determined for I. obsoleta exceeded irgarol concentrations measured in surface waters, results from this toxicity assessment will provide valuable information to environmental resource managers faced with decisions regarding the use and regulation of antifoulant paints in the coastal zone.