Effect of sediment-associated pyrethroids, fipronil, and metabolites on Chironomus tentans growth rate, body mass, condition index, immobilization, and survival

Environ Toxicol Chem. 2008 Dec;27(12):2582-90. doi: 10.1897/08-185.1.


Pyrethroids and fipronil insecticides partition to sediment and organic matter in aquatic systems and may pose a risk to organisms that use these matrices. It has been suggested that bioavailability of sediment-sorbed pesticides is reduced, but data on toxicity of sediment-associated pesticides for pyrethroids and fipronil are limited. In the current study, 10-d sediment exposures were conducted with larval Chironomus tentans for bifenthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, permethrin, fipronil, fipronil-sulfide, and fipronil-sulfone, the last two being common fipronil metabolites. Sublethal endpoints included immobilization, instantaneous growth rate (IGR), body condition index, and growth estimated by ash-free dry mass (AFDM). Pyrethroid lethal concentrations to 50% of the population (LC50s) were 6.2, 2.8, and 24.5 microg/g of organic carbon (OC) for bifenthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, and permethrin, respectively; with the former two lower than previously published estimates. Fipronil, fipronil-sulfide, and fipronil-sulfone LC50 values were 0.13, 0.16, and 0.12 microg/g of OC, respectively. Ratios of LC50s to sublethal endpoints (immobilization, IGR, and AFDM) ranged from 0.90 to 9.03. The effects on growth observed in the present study are important because of the unique dipteran life cycle involving pupation and emergence events. Growth inhibition would likely lead to ecological impacts similar to mortality (no emergence and thus not reproductively viable) but at concentrations up to 4.3 times lower than the LC50 for some compounds. In addition, C. tentans was highly sensitive to fipronil and metabolites, suggesting that dipterans may be important for estimating risk and understanding effects of phenylpyrazole-class insecticides on benthic macroinvertebrate communities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Assay
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Chironomidae / drug effects*
  • Chironomidae / growth & development
  • Chironomidae / physiology
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry*
  • Pyrazoles / metabolism
  • Pyrazoles / toxicity*
  • Pyrethrins / metabolism
  • Pyrethrins / toxicity*
  • Quality Control
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Pyrazoles
  • Pyrethrins
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • fipronil