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Chemosphere. 2005 Jun;60(1):1-8. Epub 2005 Jan 25.

Hardness corrections for copper are inappropriate for protecting sensitive freshwater biota.

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  • 1Environment Division, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, Private Mailbag 1, Menai, NSW 2234, Australia.


Toxicity testing using a freshwater alga (Chlorella sp.), a bacterium (Erwinnia sp.) and a cladoceran (Ceriodaphnia cf. dubia) exposed to copper in synthetic and natural freshwaters of varying hardness (44-375 mg CaCO3/l), with constant alkalinity, pH and dissolved organic carbon concentration, demonstrated negligible hardness effects in the pH range 6.1-7.8. Therefore, the use of a generic hardness-correction algorithm, developed as part of national water quality guidelines for protecting freshwater biota, is not recommended for assessing the toxicity of copper to these, and other, sensitive freshwater species. Use of the algorithm for these sensitive species will be underprotective because the calculated concentrations of copper in water that cause a toxic effect will be higher.

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