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Chemosphere. 2002 Feb;46(7):953-60.

Effects of bensulfuron-methyl and cinosulfuron on growth of four freshwater species of phytoplankton.

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Department of Biotechnology, E.T.S.I.A., Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain.


The acute toxicity of sulfonylurea herbicides bensulfuron-methyl and cinosulfuron was tested on the five species of freshwater phytoplankton: Scenedesmus acutus, Scenedesmus subspicatus, Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella saccharophila. Herbicide concentrations eliciting a 50% growth reduction over 96 h (EC50) ranged from 8 to 104 mg/l for cinosulfuron and from 0.015 to 6.2 mg/l for bensulfuron-methyl. The pesticides bensulfuron-methyl, atrazine and benthiocarb were more toxic than cinosulfuron, chlorsulfuron, molinate, fenitrothion and pyridaphenthion in a toxicity study with the same algal species. The transformation of effective concentrations of bensulfuron-methyl and cinosulfuron and other pesticides, obtained from toxicity measurements, into percent of the saturation level in water is used as a first evaluation of potential hazard to aquatic systems. The herbicides cinosulfuron, methyl-bensulfuron, atrazine and chlorsulfuron were more dangerous than the herbicides benthiocarb and molinate and than the insecticides fenitrothion and pyridaphenthion, in a study of hazard evaluation. The two species of Chlorella were more tolerant to both herbicides than the two species of Scenedesmus. A potential environmental hazard of sulfonylurea herbicides to aquatic systems has to be expected even at low environmental concentrations.

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