Toxic potential of the emerging contaminant nicotine to the aquatic ecosystem.Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2017 Jul; 24(20):16605-16616.ES
Nicotine is a "life-style compound" widely consumed by human populations and, consequently, often found in surface waters. This fact presents a concern for possible effects in the aquatic ecosystems. The objective of this study was to assess the potential lethal and sublethal toxicity of nicotine in aquatic organisms from different trophic levels (Vibrio fischeri, Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata, Thamnocephalus platyurus, and Daphnia magna). The bioassays were performed by exposing the organisms to concentrations of nicotine in a range of 0.5-1000 μg/L. Results showed that nicotine, at tested concentration, was not acutely toxic to V. fischeri and T. platyurus. On the contrary, this substance exhibited toxicity to P. subcapitata and Daphnia magna. Thus, concentrations of nicotine of 100 and 200 μg/L promoted an inhibition in the growth of P. subcapitata. In addition, a concentration of 100 μg/L nicotine acted on the reproduction of the crustacean D. magna, by decreasing the number of juveniles produced by female. On the other hand, the results showed that concentrations equal to or greater than 10 μg/L induced the production of daphnids male offspring, which may indicate that nicotine is a weak juvenoid compound of the D. magna endocrine system. Furthermore, the result showed that concentrations tested of this chemical have the capacity to revert the effect of fenoxycarb, a strong juvenoid chemical insecticide. The results of the study revealed that nicotine can induce several changes in some of the most important key groups of the aquatic compartment, which can compromise, in a short time, the balance of aquatic ecosystem. Finally, a preliminary environmental risk assessment of this stimulant was performed from the highest measured concentration in surface water and the no observable effect concentration value in the most sensitive species, i.e., D. magna. This process revealed that nicotine can produce an important risk to aquatic organisms.