Toxicity of trace metal ions to aquatic organisms, arising through either anthropogenic inputs or acidification of surface waters, continues to be both a regulatory and environmental problem. It is generally accepted that the free metal ion is the major toxic species (Florence et a1.,1992) and that inorganic or organic complexation renders the metal ion non-bioavailable (Meador, 1991, Galvez and Wood, 1997). However, water chemistry parameters such as alkalinity, hardness, dissolved organic carbon and pH influence metal ion toxicity either directly by lowering free metal ion concentration or indirectly through synergistic or antagonistic effects. Alkalinity and salinity can affect the speciation of metal ions by increasing ion-pair formation, thus decreasing free metal ion concentration. For example, Cu was found to be less toxic to rainbow trout in waters of high alkalinity (Miller and Mackay, 1980), due to formation of CuCO3 ion pair, and corresponding reduction in free Cu2+ concentration. The influence of salinity on the toxicity of cadmium to various organisms has been demonstrated in a number of studies (Bervoets et al., 1995, Hall et al., 1995, Lin and Dunson, 1993, Blust et al., 1992). In all these studies the apparent toxicity of cadmium was lowered as salinity was increased due to increased formation of CdC1+ and CDCl2 aqueous complexes that are non-toxic or of much lower toxicity than the free Cd2+ ion. Changes in pH exert both a biological and chemical effect on metal ion toxicity (Campbell and Stokes, 1985). Low pH favors greater metal ion solubility, and, in the absence of complexing ions, reduced speciation of the metal ion, which tends to increase toxicity compared to higher pH. However, Iow pH also enhances competition between H+ and metal ion for cell surface binding sites, which tends to decrease metal ion toxicity.
Additional Publication Details
Effects of calcium, magnesium, and sodium on alleviating cadmium toxicity to Hyalella azteca
Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology