We studied the toxicity of sediments downstream of lead-zinc mining areas in southeast Missouri, using chronic sediment toxicity tests with the amphipod, Hyalella azteca, and pore-water toxicity tests with the daphnid, Ceriodaphnia dubia. Tests conducted in 2002 documented reduced survival of amphipods in stream sediments collected near mining areas and reduced survival and reproduction of daphnids in most pore waters tested. Additional amphipod tests conducted in 2004 documented significant toxic effects of sediments from three streams downstream of mining areas: Strother Creek, West Fork Black River, and Bee Fork. Greatest toxicity occurred in sediments from a 6-km reach of upper Strother Creek, but significant toxic effects occurred in sediments collected at least 14 km downstream of mining in all three watersheds. Toxic effects were significantly correlated with metal concentrations (nickel, zinc, cadmium, and lead) in sediments and pore waters and were generally consistent with predictions of metal toxicity risks based on sediment quality guidelines, although ammonia and manganese may also have contributed to toxicity at a few sites. Responses of amphipods in sediment toxicity tests were significantly correlated with characteristics of benthic invertebrate communities in study streams. These results indicate that toxicity of metals associated with sediments contributes to adverse ecological effects in streams draining the Viburnum Trend mining district.
Additional publication details
Ecological impacts of lead mining on Ozark streams: Toxicity of sediment and pore water