Entry into the marine environment
The term 'mothproofing' describes the treatment of wool or wool-based
fabrics to prevent damage by the larvae of a number
of insect pests from the order of Coleptera (beetles)
and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) capable
of digesting keratin.
At the end of the 1970s, the pattern of mothproofing
agent use altered considerably. The discovery that
dieldrin was highly toxic to mammals and aquatic
life and also persistent led to a decline in its
use and replacement by formulations based on PCSDs
(polychloro chloromethyl sulphonamido diphenyl ether);
flucofuron and sulcofuron. However, with the advent
of formulations based on synthetic pyrethroids,
the use of these products has also declined.
Environmental Quality Standards (EQSs) for the
protection of saltwater life have been proposed
(and were put into legislation in 1989) for the
following chemicals used as mothproofing agents;
PCSDs; cyfluthrin; sulcofuron; flucofuron and permethrin.
Sources of mothproofing chemicals include both
production and formulation plants and factories
where they are used in the treatment of textiles
and carpets. Hence, they may enter the aquatic environment,
either in direct discharges or in sewage effluents.
Since the pyrethroids may have a number of other
applications, they may enter the aquatic environment
from a number of other sources.
PCSDs , flucofuron and sulcofuron exert their toxic
effect on the target organism by inhibiting the
synthesis of the enzyme required to break down keratin.
Pyrethroids, such as cyfluthrin and permethrin,
are neurotoxins (the reader is referred elsewhere
on synthetic pyrethroids for an outline of the effects
of these chemicals). The summary presented here
is therefore mainly limited to information on the
remaining three chemicals.
Zabel et al (1988) reviewed the aquatic
toxicity and bioaccumulation of these chemicals
which is summarised below.
Levels recorded in the marine
Monitoring data from the National Rivers Authority
and the National Monitoring Programme Survey of
the Quality of UK Coastal Waters are presented in
Appendix D. The information presented suggests that
in 1994 some samples of PCSDs in excess of 0.1 mg l-1 were reported (which would
exceed the EQS of 0.05 mg l-1).
However, the data are not highlighted as an exceedence,
and since no further information is available, it
is not possible to make a further assessment of
Monitoring data were not available for sediments
Based on available data, it is not possible to
assess whether concentrations of mothproofing agents
in UK coastal and estuarine waters are likely to
exceed relevant quality standards derived for the
protection of saltwater life.
Fate and behaviour in the marine
From the data available at the time, Zabel et
al (1988) were unable to assess the likely fate
and behaviour of these chemicals in the aquatic
Effects on the marine environment
Toxicity to marine organisms
An exhaustive literature review on the toxicity
of mothproofing chemicals to marine organisms has
not been carried out for the purposes of this profile.
The information provided in this section is taken
from existing review documents (Zabel 1988). The
most sensitive groups of organisms have been identified.
Environmental data for PCSDs were limited and Zabel
et al (1988) stated that further work was
necessary to understand their partitioning in the
environment. However, the authors concluded that
PCSDs readily accumulate in the tissues of fish
and were lethal at low concentrations to fish and
invertebrates (acute toxic effect were reported
at concentrations as low as 1mg
Data were also scarce for flucofuron and sulcofuron.
However, Zabel et al (1988) concluded that
they were less toxic and less likely to accumulate
than PCSDs, although, based on the available data
they can still be considered to be highly toxic
to fish and invertebrates.
PCSDs readily accumulate in the tissues of fish.
Flucofuron and sulcofuron are less likely to bioaccumulate
Potential effects on interest
features of European marine sites
Potential effects include:
- toxicity of PCSDs to invertebrates and fish
at concentrations above the EQS of 0.05 mg l-1 in the water column;
- toxicity of flucofuron to invertebrates and
fish at concentrations above the EQS of 1 mg l-1 in the water column;
- toxicity of sulcofuron to invertebrates and
fish at concentrations above the EQS of 25 mg l-1 in the water column;
- toxicity of cyfluthrin to saltwater life at
concentrations above the EQS of 0.001 mg l-1 in the water column;
- toxicity of permethrin to saltwater life at
concentrations above the EQS of 0.01mg l-1 in the water column;
- potential for accumulation in sediments, although
little is known of the fate and behaviour of these
chemicals is known;
- potential for bioaccumulation of PCSDs in fish,
birds and Annex II sea mammals.