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Ecotoxicological information

Long-term toxicity to fish

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Description of key information

No relevant effects

Key value for chemical safety assessment

Additional information

This endpoint is covered by the category approach for soluble iron salts (please see the section on physical and chemical properties for the category justification/report format). 

Testing for this endpoint has been waived in accordance with column 2 and Annex XI, part 1 and 2, restrictions.

Information from Literature Searches and earlier Assessment Approaches

The literature reviews of Vangheluwe & Versonnen (2004), Johnson et al. (2007) and OECD (2007) revealed some data. The results of the studies, selected as “reliable” by the respective authors are listed in the following tables. Nonetheless the experiments must be rated “not reliable” (Klimisch 3) according to the Klimisch et al. (1997) scale due to methodological objections against testing of aquatic organisms as concluded in the beginning of this chapter (section „Ecotoxicological information“). True, intrinsic toxicity of iron kations in aerobic aquatic test organisms cannot be determined in studies when the solubility of the dissolved ferric kation (as the ferrous form will readily be oxidized to ferric species) is exceeded. None of the experiments found effects at such low levels (depend on pH, section “water solubility”). Notwithstanding the methodological objections formally expressed in the waiving argument for the standard aquatic test organisms, the following data are mentioned for completeness.

Freshwater species:

Table: Data from the EURAS critical review (Vangheluwe & Versonnen 2004, table 3, p 11-12 & 15 and table 3, p 17-18)

Test
substance

Test organism

Test medium

Test
conditions

Nominal / Measured

Duration

Endpoints

NOEC [mg/L]

LOEC
[mg/L]

L(E)C50 [mg/L]

Reference

Author’s Reliability

FeCl3.6H2O

Pimephales promelas

reconstituted ASTM water

pH: 7.7; T: 25; H: 103; Alk: 56

To, TD, T2

33 days

Length

1.00 (measured To)

1.61 (measured To)

 

Birge et al. 1985

R1

Weight

1.61 (measured To)

2.81 (measured To)

 

Fe(OH)3

Salvelinus fontinalis

carbon filtered well water

pH: 8.1; T: 11; H: 159-180

To, TD, T2

30 days

Hatching, Survival, Growth

 

>10.3 (measured To)

 

Smith & Sykora 1976

R1

Hatching

 

>10.3 (measured To)

 

Oncorhynchus kisutch

Survival

2.81 (measured To)

4.91 (measured To)

 

Growth

 

>10.3 (measured To)

 

FeSO4.7H2O

Cyprinus carpio

River water

pH: 7.7-7.9; T: 15.7-22.6

To

2 weeks

Cortisol level

0.52

0.62

 

van Anholt et al. 2002

R2

FeCl3.6H2O

Danio rerio

aerated, aged tap water

pH: 4; T: 25; H: 40

N

16 days

Survival

 

 

MST affected: 4

Dave G 1985

R2

pH: 5; T: 25; H: 40

16 days

 

MST prolonged (all conc.)

pH: 6; T: 25; H: 40

16 days

 

MST affected: 32

pH: 7; T: 25; H: 40

16 days

 

MST>32

pH: 8; T: 25; H: 40

16 days

 

MST>32

pH: 9; T: 25; H: 40

16 days

 

MST>32

Alk: alkalinity [mg/L CaCO3]

H: hardness [mg/L CaCO3]

MST: median survival time

N: Nominal concentration

R1: Reliable without restriction according to the scheme of the authors (set out in chapter 3.2, p 6, of their publication), corrected to Klimisch 3 “not reliable” as discussed above.

R2: Reliable with restrictions according to the authors (set out in chapter 3.2, p 6, of their publication), corrected to Klimisch 3 “not reliable” as discussed above.

T: temperature [°C]

T2: total Fe(II) ion measured

TD: dissolved total Fe measured

To: total Fe measured

Table: Data according to Johnson et al. (2007, table 2.6, p 23)

Scientific name

Common name

Endpoint

Effect

Test duration [d]

Concentration [mg/L] #

Exposure

Toxicant analysis

Comments (Author's Reliability)

Reference

Coregonus lavaretus

Whitefish

NOEC

Physiology

30

0.07

ss

y

As FeSO4 (R2)

Lappivaara et al. 1999

Onchorynchus mykiss

Rainbow trout eggs

LOEC

Embryogenesis

28

5.7

f

y

As FeSO4; pH 6.8

Amelung 1982

Salmo trutta

Brown trout

NOEC

Skeletal effects

30

0.0235

f

y

As FeCl3; pH 6.5 (R3)

Reader et al. 1989

Salmo trutta

Brown trout

LOEC

Skeletal effects

30

0.0196

f

y

As FeCl3; pH 4.5 (R3)

Reader et al. 1989

# Concentration related to iron if not stated otherwise under comments (third-to-last column)

R2: Reliable with restrictions according to the authors (set out in Annex 1, p 56 of their publication), corrected to Klimisch 3 “not reliable” as discussed above.

R3: Not reliable according to the authors (set out in Annex 1, p 56 of their publication)

Exposure: ss = semi-static; f = flow-through.

Toxicant analysis: y = measured

Table: Data from the OECD (2007) assessment (table 30, p 70)

Test substance

Test organism

Test duration

Effect

Endpoint [mg Fe/L]

Reference

Author’s Reliability

FeCl3.6H2O

Pimephales promelas

33 d

Length at pH 7.5±0.2

1.0 (m.t., NOEC)

Birge et al. (1985)

R2

1.6 (m.t., LOEC)

Weight at pH 7.5±0.2

1.6 (m.t., NOEC)

1.8 (m.t., LOEC)

FeSO4

Pimephales promelas

12 months

Growth, Hatching at pH 6.9-7.2

<1.5 (n.t., NOEC)

Smith et al. 1973

R2

1.5 (n.t., LOEC)

m.t = measured total Fe

n.t = nominal total Fe

R2 = Rating by the authors (OECD 2007) referring to the Klimisch et al. (1997) scale, corrected to Klimisch 3 “not reliable” as discussed above.

Saltwater species:

No relevant data were reported by Vangheluwe & Versonnen (2004), Johnson et al. (2007) and OECD (2007).

  • Amelung M (1982). Auswirkungen gelöster Eisenverbindungen auf die Ei- und Larvalentwicklung von Salmo gairdneri (Richardson). Arch. Fischerei Wiss 32:77–87.
  • Birge WJ, Black JA, Westerman AG, Short TM, Taylor SB, Bruser DM, Wallingford ED (1985). Recommendations on numerical values for regulating iron and chloride concentrations for the purpose of protecting warmwater species of aquatic life in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Memorandum of Agreement No. 5429, Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet.
  • Dave G (1985). The influence of pH on the toxicity of aluminium, cadmium and iron to eggs and larvae of the zebrafish Brachydanio rerio. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 10:253-67.
  • Johnson I, Sorokin N, Atkinson C, Rule K, Hope S-J (2007). Proposed EQS for Water Framework Directive Annex VIII substances: iron (total dissolved). ISBN: 978-1-84432-660-0. Science Report: SC040038/SR9. SNIFFER Report: WFD52(ix). Product Code SCHO0407BLWB-E-E. Self-published by Environment Agency, Almondsbury, Bristol BS32 4UD, U.K. 65 p.
  • Klimisch H-J, Andreae M, Tillmann U (1997). A systematic approach for evaluating the quality of experimental toxicological and ecotoxicological data. Regul Toxicol Pharm 25:1-7.
  • Lappivaara J, Kiviniemi A, Oikari A (1999). Bioaccumulation and subchronic physiological effects of waterborne iron overload on whitefish exposed in humic and nonhumic water. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 37:196–204.
  • OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2007). SIDS Initial Assessment Report for SIAM 24. Chemical Category: Iron Salts. Self-published, Paris, France, 17-20 April. 138 p.
  • Reader JP, Everall NC, Sayer MDJ, Morris R (1989). The effects of eight trace metals in acid soft water on survival, mineral uptake and skeletal calcium deposition in yolk-sac fry of brown trout, Salmo trutta, L. Journal of Fish Biology 35:187–98.
  • Smith EJ, Sykora JL (1976). Early developmental effects of lime-neutralized iron hydroxide suspensions on brook trout and coho salmon. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 105:308-12.
  • Smith EJ, Sykora JL, Shapiro MA (1973). Effect of Lime Neutralized Iron Hydroxide Suspension on Survival, Growth and Reproduction of the Fathead Minnow (Pimephales promelas). Journal Fisheries Research Board of Canada 30(8):1147-53.
  • van Anholt RD, Spanings FAT, Knol AH, van der Velden JA, Wendelaar Bonga SE (2002). Effects of iron sulfate dosage on the water flea (Daphnia magna Straus) and early development of carp (Cyprinus carpio L.). Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 42:182-92.
  • Vangheluwe M, Versonnen B (2004). Critical review on acute and chronic aquatic ecotoxicity data to be used for classification purposes of iron sulfate. Commissioned by ARCELOR SA, CEFIC, EUROFER, Rio Tinto plc. Final report - 25 August 2004. Prepared by EURAS, Rijvisschestraat 118, box 3. B-9052 Gent, Belgium. 76 p.