The unexpected sources of organotin contamination in aquatic toxicological laboratory studies. Academic Article uri icon


  • Unaccounted sources of contamination can be problematic in toxicological studies and can range from the presence of impurities, breakdown products or isoforms of the parent compound to the unexpected compounds leaching from dosing apparatus. As these compounds are not being tested, they may not be measured in the dosed aquaria and hence go undetected, potentially contributing as confounding factors in toxicological assessments. In this paper we report the unexpected detection of butyltin compounds (mono, di and tributyltin) in flow-through aquaria waters of an aquatic toxicological set-up. High and variable leaching rates for dibutyltin of 2.0 and 6.6 microg/h were detected during the first week of each of two separate flow-through studies. Following this initial 'surge' of dibutyltin leachate, a decrease in leachate rate was seen with values of 0.9 and 1.2 microg/h by Day 14 (second week of study). The main source of the butyltin leachates was shown, to be the airline tubing used in the assembly of the air-supply into each flow-through tank. A 24h period of incubation of the airline tubing with clean water led to the leaching of concentrations of 63.8 ng/l TBT-Sn, 1638.8 ng/l DBT-Sn and 4054.6 ng/l MBT-Sn. The concentration of tributyltin detected was within its toxicologically effective range and as such could have potentially confounding effects on the toxicological bioassays being used. These accidental findings could be of enormous relevance to aquatic toxicologists and have an important bearing on the choice of materials used to construct experimental exposure aquaria.

published proceedings

  • Aquat Toxicol

author list (cited authors)

  • Hala, D., Bristeau, S., Dagnac, T., & Jobling, S.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Hala, D||Bristeau, S||Dagnac, T||Jobling, S

publication date

  • March 2010