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Ecotoxicological information

Short-term toxicity to aquatic invertebrates

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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 12-14 & table 4, p 18)

STANDARD SPECIES: Crustaceans (daphnids)

Test
substance

Test organism

Test medium

Test
conditions

Nominal / Measured

Duration

Endpoints

NOEC [mg/L]

LOEC
[mg/L]

L(E)C50 [mg/L]

Reference

Reliability

FeSO4

Daphnia magna

Standard reference water

pH: 7.6

N

24 h

Immobility

5.25

Lilius et al. 1995

R1

Daphnia pulex

36.9

FeCl3.6H2O

Daphnia pulex

Reconstituted ASTM water

pH: 6.1; T: 20; H: 96; Alk: 28

N

48 h

immobility

12.9 (measured)

Birge et al. 1985

R1

FeCl3.6H2O

Daphnia magna

Lake Superior water

pH: 7.7; T: 18 (room T); static

To

48 h

immobility

EC50: 9.6

Biesinger & Christensen 1972

R1

FeSO4.7H2O

Daphnia magna

Reconstituted water

pH: 6.09-6.44; T: 21.6-22

TD

48 h

Immobility

EC50: 1.29

LISEC study no. WE -01-225. Draft report

R1

FeSO4

Daphnia magna

Reconstituted water

SOP

N

24 h

Immobility

17

Calleja et al. 1994

R1

FeSO4.7H2O

Daphnia magna

Filtered, aerated tubewell water

pH: 7.6; T: 13; H: 240; Alk: 400

N

48 h

Immobility

7.2

Khangarot & Ray 1989

R2

FeCl3

Daphnia magna

Lake Eria water

pH: 8.2-8.4

N

64 h

Immobility

‘threshold’ < 6.1

Anderson 1950

R3

NON-STANDARD SPECIES

Fe2(SO4)3

Daphnia longispina

Not reported

not reported

N

48 h

Immobility

EC50:11.5

Randall et al. 1999

R1

FeSO4

Streptocephalus probiscideus

Reconstituted water

SOP but pH: 5.5

N

24 h

Immobility

79

Calleja et al. 1994

R1

FeSO4

Brachionus calyciflorus, Rotifer

ASTM E1440-91

SOP

N

24 h

Survival

12

Calleja et al. 1994

R1

FeSO4.7H2O

Leptophlebia marginata, Insect

Water from small stream

pH: 4.5

To, T2

120 h

Mortality

50

100

65.3

Gerhardt A. 1994

R2

Escape behavior

50

100

40.2

pH: 7

Survival

50

100

106.3

Escape behavior

10

50

70.0

FeCl3.6H2O

Lirceus fontinalis, (Isopod)

Reconstituted ASTM water

pH: 4.9; T: 21 H: 116; Alk: 23

To

96 h

Survival

80.5 (measured)

Birge et al. 1985

R1

FeCl3.6H2O

Asellus aquaticus, (Isopod)

Nothingham tapwater

pH: 7.8; H: 148; Alk: 70; T: 13

N

96 h

Survival

124

Martin & Holdich 1986

R2

FeCl3.6H2O

Crangonyx pseudogracilis, (Amphipod)

Nothingham tapwater

pH: 7.8; H: 148; Alk: 70; T: 13

N

96 h

Survival

120

Martin & Holdich 1986

R2

FeSO4.7H2O

Crangonyx pseudogracilis, (Amphipod)

Nothingham tapwater

pH: 7.8; H: 148; Alk: 70; T: 13

N

96 h

Survival

95

Martin & Holdich 1986

R2

Alk: alkalinity [mg/L CaCO3]

H: hardness [mg/L CaCO3]

MST: median survival time

N: Nominal concentration

R1, R2: 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.

R3: Not reliable according to the authors (set out in chapter 3.2 of their publication)

T: temperature [°C]

T2: total Fe(II) ion measured

TD: dissolved total Fe measured

To: total Fe measured

Table: Additional data according to Johnson et al. (2007, table 2.7, p 24)

Scientific name

Common name

Endpoint

Effect

Test duration [h]

Concentration [mg/L] #

Exposure

Toxicant analysis

Comments (Author's Reliability)

Reference

Brachionus calyciflorus

Rotifer

LC50

Mortality

24

35

s

n

As FeCl3 (R3)

Calleja et al. 1994

Ephemerella subvaria

Mayfly

LC50

Mortality

96

0.32

s

n

As FeSO4; pH 7.25 (R3)

Warnick & Bell 1969

Leptophlebia marginata

Mayfly (larvae)

LC50

Mortality

96

90

ss

y

As FeSO4; pH 4.5 (R2)

Gerhardt 1992

Leptophlebia marginata

Mayfly (larvae)

LC50

Mortality

96

106

ss

y

As FeSO4; pH 6.5 (R2)

Gerhardt 1992

# 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: s = static; ss = semi-static

Toxicant analysis: y = measured; n = not measured.

Table: Additional data from the OECD (2007) assessment (table 24, p 67 -68

Test substance

Test organism

Test duration

Effect

Endpoint [mg Fe/L]

Reference

Author’s Reliability

NON- STANDARD SPECIES

FeSO4

Acroneuria lycorias, Stonefly

9 days

Survival (pH 7.3-8.2)

LT50 at: 16 (n.t)

Warnick & Bell 1969

R2

FeSO4

Hydropsyche betteni, Caddisfly

7 days

Survival (pH 7.3-8.2)

LT50 at: 16 (n.t)

Warnick & Bell 1969

R2

FeSO4.7H2O

Leptophlebia marginata, Mayfly

120 h

Survival at pH 7.0

110 (n.t)

Gerhardt 1994

R1

Survival at pH 4.5

65 (n.t)

Escape at pH 7.0

70 (n.t)

Escape at pH 4.5

40 (n.t)

FeSO4.7H2O

Brachionus calyciflorus, Rotifer

24 h

Survival

12 (n.t)

Calleja et al. 1994

R2

LT50: 50 % survival time

m.t = measured total Fe

n.t. = nominal total Fe

R1, 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:

Table: Data from the EURAS critical review (Vangheluwe & Versonnen 2004, table 3, p 14)

Test substance

Test organism

Test medium

Test
conditions

Nominal / Measured

Duration

Endpoints

NOEC [mg/L]

LOEC
[mg/L]

L(E)C50 [mg/L]

FeSO4

Artemia salina

Reconstituted seawater

SOP

N

24 h

Survival

10

Calleja et al. 1994

R1

N: Nominal concentration

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

SOP: toxkit standard operation procedure

Johnson et al. (2007, table 2.9, p 29) list some more data on marine crustaceans, but the authors considered them unreliable.

  • Anderson BG (1950). The apparent thresholds of toxicity to Daphnia magna for chlorides of various metals when added to Lake Erie water. DOI 10.1577/1548-8659(1948)78[91:TFOISA]2.0.CO;2 ISSN 0002-8487 Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 78(1):96-113.
  • Biesinger KE, Christensen GM (1972). Effects of various metals on survival, growth, reproduction and metabolism of Daphnia magna. Journal of Fisheries Research Board of Canada 29: 1691-700.
  • 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.
  • Calleja MC, Persoone G, Geladi P (1994). Human acute toxicity prediction of the first 50 MEIC chemicals by a battery of ecotoxicological tests and physicochemical properties. Food Chemistry and Toxicology 32:173 -87.
  • Gerhardt A (1992). Effects of subacute doses of iron (Fe) on Leptophlebia marginata (Insecta: Ephemeroptera). Freshwater Biology 27:79–84.
  • Gerhardt A (1994). Short-term toxicity of iron (Fe) and lead (Pb) to the mayfly Leptophlebia marginata (L.) (Insecta) in relation to freshwater acidification. Hydrobiologia 284:157–68.
  • 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.
  • Khangarot BS (1991). Toxicity of metals to a freshwater Tubificid worm, Tubifex tubifex (Müller). Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 46: 906-12.
  • Khangarot BS, Ray PK (1989). Investigation of correlation between physicochemical properties of metals and their toxicity to the water flea Daphnia magna Straus. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 18(2):109–20.
  • 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.
  • Lilius H, Hastbacka T, Isoma B (1995). A comparison of the toxicity of 30 reference chemicals to Daphnia magna and Daphnia pulex. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 14:2085–8.
  • Lilius H, Hästbacka T, Isomaa B (1995). A comparison of the toxicity of 30 reference chemicals to Daphnia magna and Daphnia pulex. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 14:2085-8.
  • LISEC 1999. Acute toxicity of FeSO4.7H2O. LISEC study no. WE-01-225. Draft report.
  • Martin TR, Holdich DM (1986). The acute lethal toxicity of heavy metals to peracarid crustaceans (with particular reference to fresh-water asellids and gammarids). Water Research 20:1137-47.
  • 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.
  • Randall S, Harper D, Brierly B (1999). Ecological and ecophysiological impacts of ferric dosing in reservoirs. Hydrobiologia 395/396:355-64.
  • 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.
  • Warnick SL, Bell HL (1969). The acute toxicity of some heavy metals to different species of aquatic insects. Journal Water Pollution Control Federations 41:280-5.