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Please be aware that this old REACH registration data factsheet is no longer maintained; it remains frozen as of 19th May 2023.

The new ECHA CHEM database has been released by ECHA, and it now contains all REACH registration data. There are more details on the transition of ECHA's published data to ECHA CHEM here.

Diss Factsheets

Ecotoxicological information

Toxicity to aquatic algae and cyanobacteria

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Administrative data

Link to relevant study record(s)

Description of key information

Read-across from sodium hypochlorite (justification see IUCLID5 section 6.1 or CSR section 7.1.1): 
In a laboratory multispecies microcosm the chronic effects of chlorine (alone or together with ammonia) to naturally derived periphytic communities exposed for 7 days to sodium hypochlorite in a flow-through system were examined. A NOEC of 3 μg TRC/L equivalent to 2.1 µg FAC/L was derived as an indication of long-term toxicity to algae. An LD50 of 0.023 mg/L was determined.
Marine water:
The effects of chlorine to three phytoplanktonic algae species were tested in static tests with filtered sea water. The most sensitive species was Dunaliella primolecta, an initial dose of 0.4 mg TRO/L caused 50% mortality in 24 hours. The degradation of the hypochlorite was monitored by measuring the concentration with the colorimetric DPD method. Based on the experimental results, the authors extrapolated that in a natural medium, having a population of 1 cell/mL, mortality would reach 65% after 24 h exposure at 0.2 mg TRO/L.

Key value for chemical safety assessment

EC50 for freshwater algae:
0.023 mg/L
EC50 for marine water algae:
0.4 mg/L
EC10 or NOEC for freshwater algae:
0.002 mg/L

Additional information

Read-across from sodium hypochlorite (justification see IUCLID5 section 6.1 or CSR section 7.1.1):

Carrying out toxicity test of sodium hypochlorite on microalgae under standard conditions is virtually impossible for the following reasons. Tests are based on evaluation of growth inhibition for unicellular algae culture placed under intense illumination. Hypochlorite is readily photodegradable: the photolysis half-life of aqueous chlorine exposed to summer noon sunlit with clear sky (47°N) at a pH 8 is 12 min when measured at the surface (Nowell and Hoigné, 1992). As it is not possible to use flow through conditions with algae, it is not possible to maintain exposure conditions given the very rapid decay of the test substance.

For these reasons, during the preparation of this registration dossier, in accordance with column 2 of REACH Annex VII, no attempt to carry out a new study on algae growth inhibition (required in section 9.1.1) was made.

The available non standard studies from public literature sources considered as scientifically robust were nevertheless taken into account to be used for the risk assessment.


As said above, no standard studies with algae have been found in the literature searched.

Short-term toxicity:

The short-term toxicity of hypochlorite to freshwater algae has not been widely studied. Data are only available on the aquatic toxicity of hypochlorite to Chlorella sorokiniana specifically (Kott and Edlis, 1969) and phytoplankton generally (Brooks and Liptak, 1979).

Kott and Edlis (1969) ran a short-term test with Chlorella to determine the concentration needed to inhibit its growth. One litre Chlorella solutions (containing 225 cells/mm3) were maintained at 28-32°C for a 20 hour exposure (in the dark) to two concentrations of hypochlorite The concentrations of chlorine were measured by amperometric titration and were initially 0.2 mg/l and 0.6 mg/l - these were checked and readjusted after 8 hours of contact (no information is given about the decay curve or concentration maintenance at the end of the test). The data were presented as % kill of algae after 20h: at 0.2 mg/l the % kill was 26.8%, whereas at 0.6 mg/l the % kill was 43.0%. The test report does not provide sufficient information and the test methodology does not meet the requirement for a valid test (algicidal effect is not an endpoint equivalent to growth inhibition).

The study by Brooks and Liptak (1979) reports the results of a 30 minutes static test. The endpoint measured was chlorophyll a depletion. The experimental conditions are not sufficiently described (not valid).

Long-term toxicity:

Data on the long-term effect of sodium hypochlorite to algae can be drawn from laboratory microcosm and field mesocosm studies. The study of Cairns et al. (1990) on the peryphytic community indicated a 7d NOEC=3 μgTRC/l equivalent to 2.1µg FAC/L for the measure of algal biomass.

Marine water:


Short-term toxicity

Data on short-term toxicity to algae were retrieved from the literature but they were not considered adequate for the effects assessment of sodium hypochlorite.

The effects of chlorine to three phytoplanktonic algae species were tested by Videau et al. (1979) in static tests with filtered sea water, aimed to evaluate a number of variables. The most sensitive species was Dunaliella primolecta, for which a initial dose of 400 μg/l TRO caused 50% mortality in 24 hours. After 3 hours from dosing, free chlorine had disappeared in chlorinated water below 500 μg/l. Based on their experimental results, the authors extrapolated that in a natural medium, having a population of 1 cell/ml, mortality would reach 65% after 24 h exposure at 200 μg/l.

Gentile et al. (1976) report the Cl2 concentrations causing 50% growth reduction in a series of 24 h static tests on 11 phytoplanctonic species; the LC50 ranged from 75 to 330 μg/l. Only the highly concentrated stock solution was measured. Other tests performed on the diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana, using different exposure times up to 20 minutes showed that, 48h after exposure to 200 μg/l chlorine, growth was reduced by about 60%.

These effect concentrations very likely underestimate the toxicity following a continous exposure but none of these studies can be used for risk assessment as they address algicidal efficiency, not growth inhibition.

Long- term toxicity

Long-term toxicity data for algae were not found. Sanders et al (1981) studied the effects of prolonged chlorination on natural marine phytoplankton communities cultivated in large tanks under flow through conditions (semi-field test). To achieve measurable concentration in the exposure tanks, HOCl was added by single daily additions directly to the tanks, where it degraded within 2 hours (an intermittent exposure was therefore resulting). A 50% reduction in cell density (the most sensitive endpoint) was observed in the 21 day test at concentrations as low as 1-10 μg/l TRC. These data provide evidence of the severe impact of free chlorine on phytoplankton at very low concentrations, even at intermittent exposure (data used as supportive information).


Long- term toxicity

Erickson and Foulk (1980) used outdoor and indoor flow-through systems to evaluate the effects of continuous chlorination (1 year) on entrained estuarine plankton communities consisting of eggs, larvae, algae and juveniles (not better specified). NaOCl was continuously applied at dose levels of 125 to 1441 μg/l, which resulted in concentrations of residual chlorine in the systems below the detection limits of the amperometric analyzer used (10 μg/l). In all treatments a reduction of ATP measured as indication of biomass, was observed (from 13% to 58%). This result is used as supportive information.


For the risk assessment a NOEC of 2.1 mg FAC/L will be used to calculate the PNEC(aquatic) both for fresh and salt water derived from a laboratory microcosm study (Cairns, 1990).