Pyroligneous acid (PA) is a by-product of bio-oil, which is obtained by pyrolysis of the wood. This product has been tested for use in several areas, such as agriculture, as a promising green herbicide; however, there are few scientific data regarding its environmental impacts. For this study, an ecotoxicity testing battery, composed of Daphnia magna acute toxicity test, Allium cepa test and in vitro Comet assay with the rainbow trout gonad-2 cell fish line (RTG-2) were used to evaluate the acute toxicity and genotoxicity of PA obtained from fast pyrolysis of eucalyptus wood fines. The PA presented acute toxicity to D. magna (microcrustacea) with EC50 of 26.12 mg/L, and inhibited the seed germination (EC50 5.556 g/L) and root development (EC50 3.436 g/L) of A. cepa (higher plant). No signs of genotoxicity (chromosomal aberrations and micronuclei in A. cepa and primary DNA lesions in RTG-2 cells) were detected to this product. The acute toxicity and absence of genotoxicity may relate to the molecules found in the PA, being the phenolic fraction the key chemical candidate responsible for the toxicity observed. In addition, daphnids seem to be more sensitivity to the toxicity of PA than higher plants based on their EC50 values. This first ecotoxicological evaluation of PA from fast pyrolysis pointed out the need of determining environmental exposure limits to promote the safer agriculture use of this product, avoiding impacts to living organisms.
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