Risk assessment of triazine herbicides in surface waters and bioaccumulation of Irgarol and M1 by submerged aquatic vegetation in Southeast Florida

Sci Total Environ. 2016 Jan 15;541:1556-1571. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.09.035. Epub 2015 Nov 11.


Irgarol is a common antifoulant present in coastal environments experiencing high boating activities. Irgarol, its degradation product M1, and the similarly structured herbicide Atrazine, are highly toxic to non-target marine organisms and thus pose a continual risk to the environment. Nearshore areas with intensive boating activity were assessed for environmental exposure to Irgarol, M1, and Atrazine. Irgarol levels up to 241 ng/L were measured in surface water collected at Key Largo Harbor. Irgarol's metabolite, M1, was detected at levels up to 50 ng/L. Atrazine levels reached 21 ng/L throughout Miami River, and were also detected in waters within Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve at 7 ± 4 ng/L. The Irgarol 90th percentile exposure concentration (176 ng/L) in Southeast Florida--including Biscayne Bay--surface waters were found to exceed most toxicity benchmarks, suggesting Irgarol concentrations may be high enough to cause undesired effects on aquatic plants. Indigenous species of SAVs were also collected throughout Southeast Florida and assessed for their Irgarol and M1 bioaccumulation capabilities. All SAV species collected revealed Irgarol bioaccumulation capabilities and a 90th centile bioconcentration factor (BCF) of 9830. Several of those species were also capable of bioaccumulating M1, with a 90th centile BCF of 391. A 43-day in situ transplant between an impacted area and a pristine area within Biscayne Bay waters showed SAVs were able to uptake Irgarol from the environment with quick kinetics: tissue concentrations were 66 times greater than the water concentration within 6 weeks. Halodule and Syringodium had the highest capacity to bioaccumulate from marina surface waters, as indicated by the Irgarol BCF (Halodule=6809, Syringodium=6681) and M1 BCF (Halodule=277, Syringodium=558). Halodule and Syringodium are therefore the best candidate species to serve as bioindicators indicators of acute Irgarol contamination.

Keywords: Atrazine; Bioaccumulation; Florida; Irgarol; Submerged Aquatic Vegetation; Transplant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aquatic Organisms / metabolism
  • Florida
  • Herbicides / analysis
  • Herbicides / metabolism*
  • Plants / chemistry
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Triazines / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism*


  • Herbicides
  • Triazines
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical