Occurrence of the microcystins MC-LW and MC-LF in Dutch surface waters and their contribution to total microcystin toxicity

Faassen, E.J.; Lurling, M.


Microcystins (MCs) are the most frequently found cyanobacterial toxins in freshwater systems. Many MC variants have been identified and variants differ in their toxicity. Recent studies showed that the variants MC-LW and MC-LF might be more toxic than MC-LR, the variant that is most abundant and mostly used for risk assessments. As little is known about the presence of these two variants in The Netherlands, we determined their occurrence by analyzing 88 water samples and 10 scum samples for eight MC variants ((dm-7-)MC-RR, MC-YR, (dm-7-)MC-LR, MC-LY, MC-LW and MC-LF) by liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry detection. All analyzed MC variants were detected, and MC-LW and/or MC-LF were present in 32% of the MC containing water samples. When MC-LW and MC-LF were present, they contributed to nearly 10% of the total MC concentrations, but due to their suspected high toxicity, their average contribution to the total MC toxicity was estimated to be at least 45%. Given the frequent occurrence and possible high toxicity of MC-LW and MC-LF, it seems better to base health risk assessments on the toxicity contributions of different MC variants than on MC-LR concentrations alone