Ecotoxicology and environmental safety

Derivation of South African water quality guidelines for Roundup(®) using species sensitivity distribution.

PMID 23856119


Glyphosate-based herbicides are among the leading products used in South Africa to control weeds and invading alien plant species. Although these herbicides ultimately find their way into aquatic ecosystems, South Africa has no water quality guideline based on indigenous species to protect the country's aquatic biota against these biocides. In this study, South African water quality guidelines (SAWQGs) for Roundup(®) based on species sensitivity distribution (SSD) using indigenous aquatic biota were developed. Short-term and long-term toxicity tests were conducted with eight different aquatic species belonging to five different taxonomic groups. Static non-renewal experimental methods were employed for short-term lethal tests (≤4 days), and static renewal for long-term sublethal tests (≥4 days ≤21 days). LC50 values for animal exposure and EC50 values for algae were calculated using probit analysis and linear regression of transformed herbicide concentration as natural logarithm data against percentage growth inhibition, respectively. No effect concentration (NEC) was determined based on the dynamic energy budget model, using survival data. The LC50, EC50 and NEC values were used to develop species sensitivity distribution (SSD) concentrations for Roundup(®). Based on the SSD concentrations, the short-term and long-term SAWQGs for Roundup(®) were derived as 0.250 (0.106-0.589) mg/L, and 0.002 (0.000-0.021) mg/L, respectively. These WQGs may be useful in protecting South African aquatic life against transient or long-term exposure to glyphosate-based chemicals as part of integrated water resources management.