The aims of the present work were to assess the application of a chemical process to degrade a mixture of parabens and determine the influence of a natural river water matrix on toxicity. Model effluents containing either a single compound, namely methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, benzylparaben or p-hydroxybenzoic acid, or to mimic realistic conditions a mixture of the six compounds was used. Fenton process was applied to reduce the organic charge and toxic properties of the model effluents. The efficiency of the decontamination has been investigated using a chemical as well as a toxicological approach. The potential reduction of the effluents' toxicity after Fenton treatment was evaluated by assessing (i) Vibrio fischeri luminescence inhibition, (ii) lethal effects amongst freshwater Asian clams (Corbicula fluminea), and (iii) the impact on mammalian neuronal activity using brain slices. From the environmental point of view such a broad toxicity analysis has been performed for the first time. The results indicate that Fenton reaction is an effective method for the reduction of chemical oxygen demand of a mixture of parabens and their toxicity to V. fischeri and C. fluminea. However, no important differences were found between raw and treated samples in regard to mammalian neuronal activity.

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