Ecotoxicity Thresholds for Ametryn, Diuron, Hexazinone and Simazine in Fresh and Marine Waters

Michael St J. Warne, Olivia King, Rachael A. Smith

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11 Citations (Scopus)
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Triazine and urea herbicides are two groups of photosystem II inhibiting herbicides frequently detected in surface, ground and marine waters. Yet there are few water quality guidelines for herbicides. Ecotoxicity thresholds (ETs) for ametryn, hexazinone and simazine (triazine herbicides) and diuron (a urea herbicide) were calculated using the Australian and New Zealand method for deriving guideline values to protect fresh and marine ecosystems. Four ETs were derived for each chemical and ecosystem that should theoretically protect 99, 95, 90 and 80 percent of species (i.e., PC99, PC95, PC90 and PC80, respectively). For all four herbicides, the phototrophic species were significantly more sensitive than non-phototrophic species and therefore only the former data were used to calculate the ETs. Comparison of the ET values to measured concentrations in 2606 samples from 15 waterways that discharge to the Great Barrier Reef (2011 – 2015) found three exceedances of the simazine PC99, regular exceedances (up to30%) of the PC99 in a limited number of rivers for ametryn and hexazinone, and frequent (>40%) exceedances of the PC99 and PC95 ETs in at least four waterways for diuron. There were no exceedances of the marine ETs in inshore Reef areas. Further ecotoxicity data are required for ametryn and hexazinone to fresh and marine phototrophic species, for simazine to marine phototrophic species, for tropical phototrophic species, repeated pulse exposures and long-term (2 to 12 month) exposures to environmentally relevant concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3151-3169
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number4
Early online date14 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

The final publication is available at Springer via


  • Ametryn
  • Diuron
  • Ecosystem protection
  • Ecotoxicity thresholds
  • Freshwater
  • Hexazinone
  • Marine water
  • Simazine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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