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Evaluation of lethality and genotoxicity in the freshwater mussel Utterbackia imbecillis (Bivalvia: Unionidae) exposed singly and in combination to chemicals used in lawn care.

Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

Animals, Poaceae, Lethal Dose 50, growth & development, Larva, toxicity, Insecticides, Herbicides, Fertilizers, DNA Damage, genetics, Bivalvia

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      Many chemicals, including fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides, are routinely applied to turf in the care and maintenance of lawns. These chemicals have the potential to leach into nearby surface waters and adversely affect aquatic biota. In this study, we evaluated the lethal and genotoxic effects of chemicals used in lawn care on an early life stage of freshwater mussels (Utterbackia imbecillis). The chemicals tested were copper and commercial formulations of atrazine, glyphosate, carbaryl, and diazinon. Mussel glochidia were exposed to chemicals singly or in combination (equitoxic and environmentally realistic mixtures) for 24 h and toxic interactions were evaluated with Marking's additive index. Genotoxicity was quantified with the alkaline single-cell gel electrophoresis assay (Comet assay). In acute tests, copper was the most toxic of all chemicals evaluated (LC50 = 37.4 microg/L) and carbaryl was the most toxic of all pesticides evaluated (LC50 = 7.9 mg/L). In comparison to other aquatic organisms commonly used in toxicity tests (e.g., amphipods, cladocerans, and chironomids), mussel glochidia were as or more sensitive to the chemicals evaluated with the exception of diazinon, where mussels were observed to be less sensitive. The combined toxicity of equitoxic and environmentally realistic mixtures to mussels was additive. Genotoxic responses were observed in mussels exposed to copper, atrazine and diazinon at levels below their respective no-observed-effect concentrations. Together, these data indicate that freshwater mussels are among the most sensitive aquatic organisms tested for some chemicals commonly used in lawn care and that DNA damage may be useful as a screening tool to evaluate potential sublethal effects of lawn care products on non-target aquatic organisms.

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