Survey of bioaccessible pyrethroid insecticides and sediment toxicity in urban streams of the northeast United States

Kara E. Huff Hartz, Samuel A. Nutile, Courtney Y. Fung, Federico L. Sinche, Patrick W. Moran, Peter C. Van Metre, Lisa H. Nowell, Michael J. Lydy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Pyrethroids are a class of widely-used insecticides that can be transported from terrestrial applications to aquatic systems via runoff and tend to sorb to organic carbon in sediments. Pyrethroid occurrence is detrimental to stream ecosystems due to toxicity to sediment-dwelling invertebrates which are particularly at risk of pyrethroid exposure in urban streams. In this work, 49 streams located in watersheds in the northeastern United States were surveyed for nine current-use pyrethroids using two extraction methods. Total sediment concentrations were determined by exhaustive chemical extraction, while bioaccessible concentrations were determined by single-point Tenax extraction. Total and bioaccessible pyrethroid concentrations were detected in 76% and 67% of the sites, and the average sum of pyrethroids was 232 ng/g organic carbon (OC) for total and 43.8 ng/g OC for bioaccessible pyrethroids. Bifenthrin was the most commonly detected pyrethroid in streambed sediments. Sediment toxicity was assessed using 10-d Hyalella azteca bioassays, and 28% and 15% of sediments caused a decrease in H. azteca biomass and survival, respectively. A temperature-based focused toxicity identification evaluation was used to assess pyrethroids as the causal factor for toxicity. The concentrations of pyrethroids was only weakly correlated with the degree of urban land use. Sediment toxicity was predicted by total and bioaccessible pyrethroid concentrations expressed as toxic units. This work suggests that bioaccessibility-based methods, such as Tenax extraction, can be a valuable tool in assessing sediment toxicity. A survey of urban streambed sediments collected from the northeastern U.S. showed that pyrethroid insecticides were present and bioaccessible at the majority of sites, and most of the sediments were not toxic according to 10-d amphipod bioassays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number112931
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Nov 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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