Concept

Ecotoxicity

Summary
Ecotoxicity, the subject of study in the field of ecotoxicology (a portmanteau of ecology and toxicology), refers to the biological, chemical or physical stressors that affect ecosystems. Such stressors could occur in the natural environment at densities, concentrations, or levels high enough to disrupt natural biochemical and physiological behavior and interactions. This ultimately affects all living organisms that comprise an ecosystem. Ecotoxicology has been defined as a branch of toxicology that focuses on the study of toxic effects, caused by natural or synthetic pollutants. These pollutants affect animals (including humans), vegetation, and microbes, in an intrinsic way. According to Barrie Peake in their paper “Impact of Pharmaceuticals on the Environment.”, The ecotoxicity of chemicals can be described based on the amount of exposure to any hazardous materials. There are two categories of ecotoxicity founded off of this description: acute toxins and chronic toxins (Peake, 2016). Acute ecotoxicity refers to the detrimental effects resulting from a hazardous exposure for no more than 15 days. Acute ecotoxicity is the direct result from the interaction of a chemical hazard with cell membranes of an organism (Peake, 2016). This interaction often leads to cell or tissue damage or death. Chronic ecotoxicity on the other hand are the detrimental effects resulting from a hazardous exposure of 15 days, to possibly years (Peake, 2016). Chronic ecotoxicity is often associated with “particular drug–receptor actions that initiate a particular pharmacological response in an aquatic or terrestrial organism.” (Peake, 2016). Due to this interaction, chronic ecotoxicity is usually not lethal in the way that acute ecotoxicity is. However, chronic ecotoxicity decreases cellular biochemical functions. This often results in alterations to psychological or behavioral responses of the organism to environmental stimuli (Peake, 2016). Diethyl phthalate- enters the environment through industries manufacturing cosmetics, plastic, and other commercial products.
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