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Bioassays were performed by commercially available kits on peracetic acid (PAA) solutions, at different concentrations, and on secondary effluents (from two different wastewater treatment plants) after disinfection at bench-scale, considering both samples containing residual active PAA and the same samples where residual PAA was quenched. Four indicator organisms were used: Vibrio fischeri, Thamnocephalus platyurus, Daphnia magna, and Selenastrum capricornutum. The experiments lead to conclude that Thamnocephalus platyurus is a very sensitive organism, probably not adequate to perform a reliable toxicity assessment of effluents for monitoring purposes. The presence of specific organic compounds deriving from human metabolism and urban pollution, even at very low concentrations, can affect the results of bioassays, especially those performed on Vibrio fischeri. PAA is toxic for bacteria and crustaceans even at concentrations lower than the ones commonly used in wastewater disinfection (2-5 mg/L), while its effect on algae is smaller. The toxic effect on bacteria was expected, as PAA is used for disinfection, but its possible influence on biological processes in the receiving aquatic environment should be considered. Toxicity on crustaceans would confirm the fact that discharging disinfected effluents could raise some environmental problems.

Original publication




Journal article


Environ Sci Technol

Publication Date





6579 - 6584


Aliivibrio fischeri, Animals, Anostraca, Biological Assay, Chlorophyta, Daphnia, Disinfectants, Disinfection, Peracetic Acid, Toxicity Tests, Water Purification