Toxicity of ferric chloride sludge to aquatic organisms

Chemosphere. 2007 Jun;68(4):628-36. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2007.02.049. Epub 2007 Apr 9.


Iron-rich sludge from a drinking water treatment plant (DWTP) was investigated regarding its toxicity to aquatic organisms and physical and chemical composition. In addition, the water quality of the receiving stream near the DWTP was evaluated. Experiments were carried out in August 1998, February 1999 and May 1999. Acute toxicity tests were carried out on a cladoceran (Daphnia similis), a midge (Chironomus xanthus) and a fish (Hyphessobrycon eques). Chronic tests were conducted only on D. similis. Acute sludge toxicity was not detected using any of the aquatic organisms, but chronic effects were observed upon the fecundity of D. similis. Although there were relatively few sample dates, the results suggested that the DWTP sludge had a negative effect on the receiving body as here was increased suspended matter, turbidity, conductivity, chemical oxygen demand (COD) and hardness in the water downstream of the DWTP effluent discharge. The ferric chloride sludge also exhibited high heavy metal concentrations revealing a further potential for pollution and harmful chronic effects on the aquatic biota when the sludge is disposed of without previous treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brazil
  • Chironomidae
  • Chlorides
  • Daphnia
  • Ferric Compounds / toxicity*
  • Fishes
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Metals / analysis
  • Nitrates / analysis
  • Nitrites / analysis
  • Phosphates / analysis
  • Rivers
  • Sewage / adverse effects*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • Water Purification*


  • Chlorides
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Metals
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Phosphates
  • Sewage
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • ferric chloride