Environmental toxicology and chemistry vol:25 issue:2 pages:514-519
Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), a synthetic chemical used as a fuel additive, has been detected more frequently in the environment than previously. In this study, we examine the effects of MTBE (up to 100 mg/L) and its primary metabolite tertbutyl alcohol (TBA) (up to 1,400 mg/L) on the hatch rate and larval development of the African catfish Clarias gariepinus. Exposure to higher MTBE concentrations resulted in deformed eyes, mouthparts, and spinal cord and in increased larval mortality. Methyl tert-butyl ether exposure had no significant impact on egg viability, whereas TBA induced a decline of hatch rate. The MTBE can be regarded as a pollutant with toxicological effects on catfish larvae at concentrations above 50 mg/L. Although such concentrations greatly surpass present-day concentrations found in surface water (0.088 mg/L), concentrations up to 200 mg/L have been detected in groundwater.