Toxicity of fipronil and its enantiomers to marine and freshwater non-targets

J Environ Sci Health B. Jun-Jul 2007;42(5):471-80. doi: 10.1080/03601230701391823.


Fipronil is a phenylpyrazole insecticide used in agricultural and domestic settings for controlling various insect pests in crops, lawns, and residential structures. Fipronil is chiral; however, it is released into the environment as a racemic mixture of two enantiomers. In this study, the acute toxicity of the (S,+) and (R,-) enantiomers and the racemic mixture of fipronil were assessed using Simulium vittatum IS-7 (black fly), Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog), Procambarus clarkii (crayfish), Palaemonetes pugio (grass shrimp), Mercenaria mercenaria (hardshell clam), and Dunaliella tertiolecta (phytoplankton). Results showed that S. vittatum IS-7 was the most sensitive freshwater species to the racemic mixture of fipronil (LC50 = 0.65 microg/L) while P. pugio was the most sensitive marine species (LC50 = 0.32 microg/L). Procambarus clarkii were significantly more sensitive to the (S,+) enantiomer while larval P. pugio were significantly more sensitive to the (R,-) enantiomer. Enantioselective toxicity was not observed in the other organisms tested. Increased mortality and minimal recovery was observed in all species tested for recovery from fipronil exposure. These results indicate that the most toxic isomer of fipronil is organism-specific and that enantioselective toxicity may be more common in crustaceans than in other aquatic organisms.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astacoidea / drug effects
  • Astacoidea / growth & development
  • Biological Assay
  • Bivalvia / drug effects
  • Bivalvia / growth & development
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Insecticides / chemistry
  • Insecticides / toxicity*
  • Palaemonidae / drug effects
  • Palaemonidae / growth & development
  • Phytoplankton / drug effects
  • Phytoplankton / growth & development
  • Pyrazoles / chemistry
  • Pyrazoles / toxicity*
  • Simuliidae / drug effects
  • Simuliidae / growth & development
  • Species Specificity
  • Toxicity Tests / methods*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*
  • Water Pollution, Chemical
  • Xenopus laevis / growth & development


  • Insecticides
  • Pyrazoles
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • fipronil