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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2007 May;67(1):128-39. Epub 2006 Jun 5.

Toxicity and hazard of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and sertraline to algae.

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Centre for Toxicology, Bovey Administrative Building, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1.


The toxicity of SSRIs to algae/phytoplankton was investigated using the US EPA ECOSAR, acute single-species growth inhibition assays, species sensitivity distributions (SSDs), and an outdoor microcosm mixture experiment. Worst-case ECOSAR estimates of SSRI toxicity to algae ranged from 0.73 to 13.08 mg/L. Sertraline was the most toxic SSRI tested in single-species growth inhibition assays followed by fluoxetine and fluvoxamine with worst-case 96-h IC10s of 4.6, 31.3, and 1662 microg/L, respectively. HC5s of 2.4, 3.6, and 1100 microg/L were estimated, respectively, for sertraline, fluoxetine, and fluvoxamine toxicity to algae-using SSDs. Microcosm phytoplankton structural endpoints were more sensitive than functional endpoints in the short term. However, in the long term, structural endpoints were resilient and functional endpoints remained impacted even after a period of recovery. The worst-case EC10 determined from the outdoor microcosm mixture toxicity to phytoplankton communities was 15.2 nM. Although SSRIs are toxic to algae, hazard quotients using worst-case PECs represent a margin of safety of 20 to phytoplankton. Although SSRIs do not appear to pose a hazard to primary production, this assessment is not protective of higher aquatic organisms and further research into the chronic toxicity to low levels of SSRIs to higher-level aquatic species is recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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