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Studies of the environmental fate and effect of aircraft deicing fluids: Detection of 5-methyl-1H-benzotriazole in the fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas)

January 1, 2003

This paper presents the results of a number of field and laboratory studies to evaluate the environmental impact of aircraft deicing and anti-icing fluids (ADAFs) on aquatic systems. Both 5-methyl-1H-benzotriazole (5-MeBt) and 4-methyl-1H-benzotriazole (4-MeBt), known additives to ADAFs, were found in whole-tissue extracts from minnows placed downstream of an effluent outfall that receives ADAF contaminated runoff from General Mitchell International Airport (Milwaukee, WI, USA). Neither of these compounds was detected in tissues from minnows placed upstream from the airport. A toxicity assessment of water collected during the minnow exposure studies utilizing Hyalella azteca, Pimephales promelas, and Ceriodaphnia dubia showed greater toxicity in a secondary airport outfall containing ADAFs when compared to upstream non-ADAF-contaminated samples. In two 28-d static renewal tests using 5-MeBt laboratory-fortified waters, 5-MeBt was detected in whole-tissue extracts of minnows at all concentrations tested. In studies using laboratory water fortified with 5-MeBt, the median lethal concentration (LC50) of 5-MeBt for P. promelas was found to be 22.0 mg/L. The LC50 for C. dubia to 5-MeBt laboratory-fortified water was found to be 81.3 mg/L. The 25% inhibition concentration (IC25) of 5-MeBt for the green alga Selenastrum capricornutum was 23.2 mg/L, and the average median effective concentration (EC50) for Microtox was 4.25 mg/L. The results of these field and lab studies indicate that additives, other than glycols, used in aircraft deicing fluids can be found in aquatic systems and may be of greater risk than previously believed.