We evaluated the influence of sediment characteristics, acid-volatile sulfide (AVS) and organic matter (OM), on the toxicity of chromium (Cr) in freshwater sediments. We conducted chronic (28-42-d) toxicity tests with the amphipod Hyalella azteca exposed to Cr(VI) and Cr(III) in water and in spiked sediments. Waterborne Cr(VI) caused reduced survival of amphipods with a median lethal concentration (LC50) of 40 ??g/L. Cr(VI) spiked into test sediments with differing levels of AVS resulted in graded decreases in AVS and sediment OM. Only Cr(VI)-spiked sediments with low AVS concentrations (<1 ??mol/g) caused significant amphipod mortality. Waterborne Cr(III) concentrations near solubility limits caused decreased survival of amphipods at pH 7 and pH 8 but not at pH 6. Sediments spiked with high levels of Cr(III) did not affect amphipod survival but had minor effects on growth and inconsistent effects on reproduction. Pore waters of some Cr(III)-spiked sediments contained measurable concentrations of Cr(VI), but observed toxic effects did not correspond closely to Cr concentrations in sediment or pore waters. Our results indicate that risks of Cr toxicity are low in freshwater sediments containing substantial concentrations of AVS.
Additional publication details
Effects of sediment characteristics on the toxicity of chromium(III) and chromium(VI) to the amphipod, Hyalella azteca