Environmental risk dynamics of pesticides toxicity in a Mediterranean micro-estuary

Tom Topaz, Roey Egozi, Yair Suari, Julius Ben-Ari, Tal Sade, Benny Chefetz*, Gitai Yahel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Pesticides are potentially toxic to aquatic systems, even at low concentration, depending on their individual ecotoxicological properties and their mixture composition. Thus, to evaluate possible ecological stress due to pesticide load, a thorough assessment of the potential toxicity of pesticide mixtures is required. Here we report water discharge and quality data of an eastern Mediterranean micro-estuary (Alexander stream), targeting the temporal distribution of a pesticide mixture. Over 150 water samples were collected during 2 hydrological years representing base-flow and flood conditions. On average, each water sample contained 34 and 45 different pesticides with peak concentrations of 1.4 μg L−1 of Imidacloprid and 55 μg L−1 of Diuron during base-flow and flood events, respectively. Pesticide mixtures were potentially toxic to benthic invertebrates and algae during flood events, surpassing the toxicity benchmark with medians of 110% and 155%, respectively. The herbicide Diuron and the insecticide Imidacloprid were the main pesticides responsible for the high potential toxicity during flood events. The falling limb of the flood hydrographs was found to inflict the highest stress on the estuarine environment due to elevated toxicity combined with prolonged residence time of the water. Examination of the potential chronic toxicity of single compounds showed continuous stress for plants, algae, amphibians, crustaceans, insects and fish from nine pesticides. Our data show that the ecosystem of the Alexander micro-estuary is under a continuous chronic stress with acute peaks in potential toxicity during flood events and the period that follows them. We propose that analyzing a small set of flood-tail samples is needed for the evaluation of small estuarine ecosystems risk during the rainy season. From a management perspective, we suggest better control of application practices for Diuron in the watershed to minimize the stress to the estuarine ecosystem.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number114941
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Baseflow
  • Environmental risk
  • Multiple toxicity
  • Organic pollutants
  • Stormwater
  • Stream
  • Watershed management
  • flood


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