Approved Abstracts

Fire supressors are really “atoxic”? Acute toxicity, DNA damage and lipid peroxidation in fish (Poecilia reticulata) exposed to low concentrations



Author(s): Ueda M.; BURUAEM, L. M.; ABESSA, D. M. S.;
Presenter: Maysa Ueda de Carvalho

Aquous film forming foam (AFFFs) are widely used to combat major fires. During an emergency in the Port Terminal of Alemoa, large volumes of AFFFs were used, producing an effluent containing a mixture of AFFFs, gasoline and ethanol, which reached the Santos Estuarine System. As a consequence, more than 8 tons of fish were found dead. This investigation aimed to study the toxicity of three AFFFs (Ageofoam; Cold Fire; and F500 Fire), used in the fire fighting on the fish Poecilia reticulata. Acute toxicity tests were conducted, using adult individuals, following the protocol NBR 15088 from the Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT). Twelve individuals were exposed to each test-concentration (0.1%; 0.001% and 0.00001%) plus the negative control (dilution water). After 96h, the test was finished and the lethal concentration to 50% organisms (LC50) was calculated, together with the low observed effect concentration (LOEC) and the no observed effect concentration (NOEC). Gills and liver from the exposed fish were collected, for the analysis of DNA damage and membranes lipoperoxidation (LPO), through biochemical techniques. All the AFFFs caused elevated toxicity to the fish, when the mortality was analyzed. The LOECs were calculated to be higher than 0.01% for the Agefoam and 0.001% for the F500 and Cold Fire. F500 was the most toxic AFFF with a LC50 of 0.01%, followed by the Agefoam (LC50 = 0.008621%) and the Cold Fire (LC50 = 0.001221%). Regarding the DNA damages, fish exposed to 0.01% and 0.001% of Agefoam and Cold Fire did not showed significant effects, while those exposed to F500 presented a significant reduction of damages in the concentration of 0.00001%, which could be due to hormesis. For the LPO, the exposed fish presented reduced levels in all concentrations, excepting those exposed to Cold Fire (gills), suggesting that the lesions in membranes and tissues was caused by direct action of the tensoactives and not by the oxidation induced by reactive oxygen species. The three brands of AFFFs sold as atoxic presented toxicity at the concentrations recommended by the respective manufacturers. Brazil is signatory of the Stockholm Convention, which regulates the use and commerce of persistent organic pollutants. According to this Convention, AFFFs have some use restrictions, but their use is allowed due to the Exception Rule, in which a compound can be used if there is not an equivalent substitute to be used to combat major fires. The formulation of commercial AFFFs include compounds of emerging concern which are not regularly monitored in the environment, despite being bioaccumulative, persistent and toxic, requiring thus that such chemicals are included in impact assessments and regular monitoring programs. This ecotoxicological assessment provides additional data for the measurement of impacts caused by the fire in the por terminal, and also increases the dataset involving the effects and mechanisms of action of AFFFs on the Brazilian ichthyofauna. This information is also useful to the improvement of monitoring programs and the establishment of regulations for the safe use of AFFFs in Brazil.

Financial Support: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo - FAPESP (process 2018/25498-5).


Keywords: neotropical ichthyofauna; fire retardant; emergent compound

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