Toxicity of Three Polyethoxylated Tallowamine Surfactant Formulations to Laboratory and Field Collected Fairy Shrimp, Thamnocephalus Platyurus

Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2007 Feb;52(2):217-21. doi: 10.1007/s00244-006-0151-y. Epub 2006 Dec 12.


Polyethoxylated tallowamine (POEA) is a non-ionic surfactant used in herbicide formulations to increase the efficacy of active ingredients. POEA promotes penetration of herbicide active ingredients into plant cuticles, and in animal species is known to cause alterations in respiratory surfaces. POEA use has increased recently with the advent of "Roundup-Ready" crops; however, its potential effects on aquatic invertebrates are relatively unknown. The aquatic macroinvertebrate Thamnocephalus platyurus (Crustacea, Anostraca) was used to assess the acute toxicity of POEA. Three formulations of POEA consisting of a 5:1, 10:1, and 15:1 average oxide:tallowamine were used in this study. All POEA formulations were found to be extremely toxic to T. platyurus with 48-h LC50 concentrations as low as 2.01 microg/L for 15:1. POEA toxicity increased as the tallowamine chain length was reduced, whereas the oxide chain length appeared to only slightly increase toxicity. Based on these results, POEA has the potential to adversely affect aquatic organisms in areas in which it is used.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anostraca / drug effects*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Herbicides / chemistry
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Molecular Structure
  • Polyethylene Glycols / toxicity*
  • Surface-Active Agents / toxicity*
  • Toxicity Tests, Acute
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Herbicides
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • polyoxyethyleneamine
  • Polyethylene Glycols