Evaluating the hazard of dodecyl alkyl sulphate to natural ecosystems using zindigenous protistan communities


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Abstract

The effect of the surfactant dodecyl alkyl sulphate (C12AS) on the structure and function of lotic protistan assemblages was examined using the Experimental Stream Facility (ESF) operated by the Procter and Gamble Company. Population- and community-level responses to C12AS were monitored on introduced substrates placed in the channels 28 days prior to dosing (mature communities) as well as those placed in the channels on day 0 of dosing (immature communities), to allow for a broad assessment of the effect of the chemical on processes contributing both to community development and maintenance. C12AS appeared to elicit a subsidy response from the native protistan assemblage which may have resulted from both positive and negative responses at trophic levels above and below the assemblage. Protistan responses to the surfactant tended to occur more rapidly and be more sensitive than those documented for invertebrates and fish. C12AS elicited a modest response (i.e. a 20% change) from several reliable parameters including community respiration (reduced dissolved oxygen at 289 μg per L), protozoan species richness (increased at 63 μg per L) and protozoan community composition (increased dissimilarity at 1254 μg per L). Responses to C12AS exceeded expected exposures in the real world by a factor of six or greater thereby indicating that the hazard of exposure to C12AS to stream communities is low. The results of this study support the use of mesocosms as decisive tools for evaluating the hazard posed by consumer product chemicals to natural communities and ecosystems

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