Early Life-Stage Toxicity of Eight Pharmaceuticals to the Fathead Minnow, Pimephales promelas Academic Article uri icon


  • Human pharmaceuticals are routinely being detected in the environment, and there is growing concern about whether these drugs could elicit effects on aquatic organisms. Regulatory paradigms have shifted accordingly, with a greater emphasis on chronic toxicity data compared with acute data. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 210 Early Life Stage Test has been proposed as a good measure of the potential for pharmaceuticals to elicit chronic toxicity. To begin building a data set regarding the early life-stage toxicity of pharmaceuticals to fish, fathead minnows (FHM) were exposed to amiodarone, carbamazepine, clozapine, dexamethasone, fenofibrate, ibuprofen, norethindrone, or verapamil. Survival and growth were used to assess chronic toxicity in FHM at 28 days posthatch. Exposure of FHM to carbamazepine, fenofibrate, and ibuprofen resulted in no significant adverse effects at the concentrations tested. FHM survival was not impacted by verapamil exposure; however, growth was significantly decreased at 600 μg/L. Dexamethasone-exposed FHM showed a significant decrease in survival at a concentration of 577 μg/L; however, growth was not impacted at the concentration tested. Norethindrone exposure resulted in a significant decrease in survival and dry weight at 14.8 and 0.74 μg/L, respectively. Exposure to amiodarone and clozapine resulted in a significant decrease in survival and a significant increase in growth at concentrations of 1020 and 30.8 μg/L, respectively. Although the effect levels derived in this study are greater then concentrations observed in the environment, these data suggest that synthetic progestins may require additional research.

author list (cited authors)

  • Overturf, M. D., Overturf, C. L., Baxter, D., Hala, D. N., Constantine, L., Venables, B., & Huggett, D. B.

citation count

  • 33

publication date

  • November 2011