Acrylamide is a monomer widely used as an intermediate in the production of organic chemicals, e.g. polyacrylamides (PAMs). Since PAMs are low cost chemicals with applications in various industries and waste- and drinking water treatment, a certain amount of non-polymerised acrylamide is expected to end up in waterways. PAMs are non-toxic but acrylamide induces neurotoxic effects in humans and genotoxic, reproductive, and carcinogenic effects in laboratory animals. In order to evaluate the effect of acrylamide on freshwater organisms, bioassays were conducted on four species: algae Desmodesmus subspicatus and Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata, duckweed Lemna minor and water flea Daphnia magna according to ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) standardised methods. This approach ensures the evaluation of acrylamide toxicity on organisms with different levels of organisation and the comparability of results, and it examines the value of using a battery of low-cost standardised bioassays in the monitoring of pollution and contamination of aquatic ecosystems. These results showed that EC50 values were lower for Desmodesmus subspicatus and Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata than for Daphnia magna and Lemna minor, which suggests an increased sensitivity of algae to acrylamide. According to the toxic unit approach, the values estimated by the Lemna minor and Daphnia magna bioassays, classify acrylamide as slightly toxic (TU=0-1; Class 1). The results obtained from algal bioassays (Desmodesmus subspicatus and Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata) revealed the toxic effect of acrylamide (TU=1-10; Class 2) on these organisms.
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