The impact on tilapia fish of combined treatment of landfill leachate and domestic sewage was monitored in a waste treatment plant that operated on a pilot scale using the activated sludge process. Biomarkers of sub-lethal toxicity were used to indicate the possibility of damage to organisms due to interaction with pollutants. The concentration of metallothioneins did not indicate the increased presence of metals in fish exposed than in control groups. Acetylcholinesterase enzyme activity was inhibited in only one of the exposed groups, indicating the possible presence of organophosphate and/or carbamate pesticides in treated effluent. The PAHs used as biomarkers (naphthalene, pyrene, benzo(a)pyrene and 1-hydroxypyrene) indicated that exposed fish had a greater absorption of PAHs than control groups of fish, indicating the likely presence of these compounds in at least one of the combined treatment effluents. The frequencies of micronuclei and other erythrocytic nuclear abnormalities also indicate greater genotoxic damage in cells of organisms exposed than in control groups. The use of biomarkers proved to be important to permit an evaluation of sub-lethal damage present in organisms exposed to the pollution source studied.
Leachate treatment; Ecotoxicity; Biomarkers; Tilapia fish