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Effects of water hardness and alkalinity on the toxicity of uranium to a tropical freshwater hydra (Hydra viridissima)

Effects of water hardness and alkalinity on the toxicity of uranium to a tropical freshwater hydra (Hydra viridissima)

Biomarkers: Biochemical Indicators of Exposure Response and Susceptibility to Chemicals 6(1): 45-51

ISSN/ISBN: 1354-750X

PMID: 23886056

DOI: 10.1080/135475001452788

In tropical Australian freshwaters, uranium (U) is of potential ecotoxicological concern, largely as a consequence of mining activities. Although the toxicity of uranium to Australian freshwater biota is comprehensive, by world standards, few data are available on the effects of physicochemical variables, such as hardness, alkalinity, pH and organic matter, on uranium speciation and bioavailability. This study determined the individual effects of water hardness (6.6, 165 and 330 mg l(-1) as CaCO3) and alkalinity (4.0 and 102 mg l(-1) as CaCO3), at a constant pH (6.0), on the toxicity (96 h population growth) of uranium to Hydra viridissima (green hydra). A 50-fold increase in hardness (Ca and Mg concentration) resulted in a 92% (two-fold) decrease in the toxicity of uranium to H. viridissima [i.e. an increase in the EC50 value and 95% confidence interval from 114 (107-121) to 219 (192-246) µg l(-1)]. Conversely, at a constant hardness (165 mg l-1 as CaCO3), the toxicity of uranium to H. viridissima was not significantly (P > 0.05) affected by a 25-fold increase in alkalinity (carbonate concentration) [i.e. EC50 values of 177 (166-188) and 171 (150-192) µg l(-1) at 4.0 and 102 mg l(-1) as CaCO3, respectively]. A knowledge of the relationship between water chemistry variables, including hardness and alkalinity, and uranium toxicity is useful for predicting the potential ecological detriment in aquatic systems, and can be used to relax national water quality guidelines on a site-specific basis.

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Accession: 010568090

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