Acute toxicity of arsenic to Daphnia pulex: Influence of organic functional groups and oxidation state

Joseph R. Shaw, Stephen P. Glaholt, Noah S. Greenberg, Reyes Sierra-Alvarez, Carol L. Folt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Investigations were conducted to determine the influence of organic functional groups (i.e., methyl, phenyl) and valence state (i.e., III, V) on acute (48-h) arsenic toxicity in Daphnia pulex. These included toxicity texts with a suite of inorganic (arsenite, arsenate) and organic arsenicals (trivalent and pentavalent methylated arsenicals, roxarsone, p-arsanilic acid). Toxicity, based on median lethal concentrations (LC50 values), clustered the arsenicals into three groups and followed the order (most toxic to least toxic) of monomethylarsonous acid (MMAIII), 120 μg/L > inorganic arsenic, 2,500 to 3,900 μg/L > pentavalent methylated arsenicals and phenylarsonic compounds, 13,800 to 15,700 μg/L. Pentavalent organic arsenicals were less toxic than inorganic forms regardless of functional group. In contrast, the trivalent organic species (MMAIII) was the most toxic arsenical studied. These findings, which are the first to include an aquatic organism, add to the growing body of evidence that find that MMAIII is an extremely toxic intermediate of arsenic methylation and contradict theories of arsenic toxicity that regard methylation as a detoxication event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1532-1537
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Arsenic
  • Daphnia pulex
  • Methylation
  • Monomethylarsonous acid
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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