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Congo red dye diversely affects organisms of different trophic levels: a comparative study with microalgae, cladocerans, and zebrafish embryos

Hernández-Zamora, Miriam, Martínez-Jerónimo, Fernando
Environmental science and pollution research international 2019 v.26 no.12 pp. 11743-11755
Ceriodaphnia, Congo red, Danio rerio, Daphnia magna, Selenastrum capricornutum, acute effects, aquatic ecosystems, aquatic environment, artificial colors, bioassays, color, edema, effluents, environmental law, fish communities, fish larvae, hatching, inhibitory concentration 50, lethal concentration 50, microalgae, oxygen, photosynthesis, pigments, population growth, textile industry, toxicity, trophic levels, wastewater, yolk sac
Global consumption of synthetic dyes is roughly 7 × 10⁵ tons per year, of which the textile industry expends about two-thirds. Consumption of synthetic dyes produces large volumes of wastewater discharged into aquatic ecosystems. Colored effluents produce toxic effects in the hydrobionts, reduce light penetration, and alter the photosynthetic activity, causing oxygen depletion, among other effects. Some dyes, such as Congo red (CR), are elaborated with benzidine, a known carcinogenic compound. Information regarding dye toxicity in aquatic ecosystems is scarce; therefore, our study was aimed at evaluating the toxicity of CR on a battery of bioassays: the microalga Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata, the cladocerans Daphnia magna and Ceriodaphnia rigaudi, and the zebrafish Danio rerio. P. subcapitata was the most sensitive species to CR (IC₅₀, 3.11 mg L⁻¹); in exposed individuals, population growth was inhibited, but photosynthetic pigments and macromolecule concentrations were stimulated. D. magna was tolerant to high dye concentrations, the determined LC₅₀ (322.9 mg L⁻¹) is not an environmentally relevant value, but for C. rigaudi, LC₅₀ was significantly lower (62.92 mg L⁻¹). In zebrafish embryos, exposure to CR produced yolk sac edema, skeletal deformities, and stopped larvae hatching; lack of heart beating was the only observed lethal effect. CR affected organisms of different trophic levels diversely. Particularly, the effects observed in microalgae confirm the vulnerability of primary producers to dye-polluted wastewaters, because dyes produced toxic effects and interfered with photosynthesis. Different cladoceran species displayed different acute effects; thus, species sensitivity must also be considered when toxicity of dyes is assessed. Inhibition of fish larvae hatching is a significant effect not previously reported that warns about the toxicity of dyes in fish population dynamics. Synthetic azo colorants should be considered as emerging pollutants because they are discharged into the aquatic environment and are not currently included in the environmental regulation of several countries.