Acute Toxicity of Copper, Ammonia, and Chlorine to Glochidia and Juveniles of Freshwater Mussels (Unionidae)

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freshwater mussels, glochidia, juvenile mussels, acute toxicity, water quality criteria


The objective of the present study was to determine acute toxicity of copper, ammonia, or chlorine to larval (glochidia) and juvenile mussels using the recently published American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard guide for conducting laboratory toxicity tests with freshwater mussels. Toxicity tests were conducted with glochidia (24‐ to 48‐h exposures) and juveniles (96‐h exposures) of up to 11 mussel species in reconstituted ASTM hard water using copper, ammonia, or chlorine as a toxicant. Copper and ammonia tests also were conducted with five commonly tested species, including cladocerans (Daphnia magna and Ceriodaphnia dubia; 48‐h exposures), amphipod (Hyalella azteca; 48‐h exposures), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss; 96‐h exposures), and fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas; 96‐h exposures). Median effective concentrations (EC50s) for commonly tested species were >58 μg Cu/L (except 15 μg Cu/L for C. dubia) and >13 mg total ammonia N/L, whereas the EC50s for mussels in most cases were <45 μg Cu/L or <12 mg N/L and were often at or below the final acute values (FAVs) used to derive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1996 acute water quality criterion (WQC) for copper and 1999 acute WQC for ammonia. However, the chlorine EC50s for mussels generally were >40 μg/L and above the FAV in the WQC for chlorine. The results indicate that the early life stages of mussels generally were more sensitive to copper and ammonia than other organisms and that, including mussel toxicity data in a revision to the WQC, would lower the WQC for copper or ammonia. Furthermore, including additional mussel data in 2007 WQC for copper based on biotic ligand model would further lower the WQC.

Recommended Citation

Wang, Ning, Christopher G. Ingersoll, Douglas K. Hardesty, Christopher D. Ivey, James L. Kunz, Thomas W. May, F. James Dwyer et al. "Acute toxicity of copper, ammonia, and chlorine to glochidia and juveniles of freshwater mussels (Unionidae)." Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: An International Journal 26, no. 10 (2007): 2036-2047.

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