The osmotic effect of hyper-saline hydraulic fracturing fluid on rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss

P. L.M. Delompré, T. A. Blewett, K. N. Snihur, S. L. Flynn, D. S. Alessi, C. N. Glover, G. G. Goss

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Flowback and produced water (FPW) is a complex, often brackish, solution formed during the process of hydraulic fracturing. Despite recent findings on the short-term toxicity of FPW on aquatic biota, longer-term impacts of FPW on fish have not yet been investigated and the mechanisms of chronic effects remain unknown. The aim of the present study was to observe the effect of a diluted FPW on ionoregulatory endpoints in the rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, following a 28-d sub-chronic exposure. A salinity-matched control solution (SW), recreating the salt content of the FPW, was used to differentiate the specific effect of the salts from the effects of the other FPW components (i.e. organics and metals). Overall, fish ionoregulation was not impacted by the chronic exposure. An accumulation of strontium (Sr) and bromide (Br) occurred in the plasma of the FPW-exposed fish only, however no change of plasma ions (Na, K, Cl, Ca, Mg) was observed in SW- or FPW-exposed fish. Similarly, exposures did not alter branchial activity of the osmoregulatory enzymes sodium/potassium ATPase and proton ATPase. Finally, FPW exposure resulted in modifications of gill morphology over time, with fish exposed to the fluid displaying shorter lamellae and increased interlamellar-cell mass. However, these effects were not distinct from morphological changes that also occurred in the gills of control groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - Jun. 2019


  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss
  • Osmotic stress
  • Salinity


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