ARPHA Conference Abstracts : Conference Abstract
Conference Abstract
Comparative acute toxicity of the pharmaceutical compound Diclofenac on groundwater and surface water crustaceans
expand article infoAndrea Castaño Sánchez, Joana Luisa Pereira§, Fernando Gonçalves§, Ana Sofia Reboleira
‡ Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
§ Department of Biology and CESAM, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal
Open Access


Pharmaceutical compounds have been extensively used in medicine and currently detected in trace concentrations (ranging from ng/L to mg/L) in both surface and groundwater bodies worldwide in the last decades. Despite being mostly found in low concentrations, these are persistent compounds that are continuously discharged into aquatic ecosystems. Pharmaceutical compounds are also present in complex mixtures and the actual absence of appropriate wastewater treatment specifically targeting their elimination, renders them emerging contaminants with high risk for surface and groundwater ecosystems. None of these compounds is included in the European Water Framework Directive as a priority substance and comprehensive data are still being built regarding pharmaceuticals toxicity on standard surface aquatic taxa and almost none concerning groundwater-dweller species. However, the current Directive 2008/105/EC has included some antibiotics, steroids, phenolic-antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory diclofenac in the established watch list for monitoring substances regarding water quality policy.

Assessing the toxicity of pharmaceutical compounds in a large spectrum of aquatic environments is needed to assist a realistic environmental risk assessment. Hence, including subterranean species is a priority for establishing conservation measures in groundwater ecosystems. Copepod crustaceans are widely represented in freshwater bodies and dominant in groundwater ecosystems. We have selected the cosmopolitan (freshwater and groundwater) crustacean species Diacyclops crassicaudis crassicaudis Sars, 1863 and the freshwater model species Daphnia magna Müller, 1785 to estimate their response to acute exposures to the pharmaceutical compound diclofenac. Our preliminary results indicate that diclofenac was more toxic to the copepodites C1-C2 than to the neonates of D. magna (half maximal effective concentration: 63 mg/L and 111.3 mg/L at 48 h respectively) (See Suppl. material 1). However, further long-term toxicity testing at more environmentally relevant concentrations and the use of species with similar ecological features and more closely related are required for a better understanding of the potential of pharmaceutical compounds to harm the groundwater biota.

Presenting author

Castaño-Sánchez, Andrea

Presented at

24th International Conference on Subterranean Biology. Univesity of Aveiro (Portugal), 20-24th August 2018.


This work was supported by a research grant (15471) from the VILLUM FONDEN. To CESAM (UID/AMB/50017-POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007638) FCT/MEC, co-funded by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020, and to a postdoc grant by FCT (SFRH/BPD/101971/2014).

Supplementary material

Suppl. material 1: Comparative acute toxicity of the pharmaceutical compound Diclofenac on groundwater and surface water crustaceans 
Authors:  Castaño-Sánchez, Andrea; Pereira, Joana Luisa; Gonçalves, Fernando J.M. and Reboleira, Ana Sofia P. S.
Data type:  Poster
Brief description: 

Poster presented at the 24th International Conference on Subterranean Biology. University of Aveiro (Portugal), 20-24th August 2018.