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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2000 Jun;46(2):218-24.

Iron ore mines leachate potential for oxyradical production.

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  • 1Biochemistry Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, A1B 3X9, Canada.


The ecotoxicological effects of mining effluents is coming under much greater scrutiny. It appears necessary to explore possible health effects in association with iron ore mining effluents. The present results clearly demonstrate that iron-ore leachate is not an inert media but has the potential to induce lipid peroxidation. Peroxidation was assessed by measuring oxygen consumption in the presence of a reducing agent such as ascorbate or NADPH and a chelator such as EDTA. Labrador iron ore is an insoluble complex crystalline material containing a mixture of metals (Fe, Al, Ti, Mn, Mg,ellipsis, ) in contrast to the iron sources used for normal lipid peroxidation studies. The metal of highest percentage is iron (59. 58%), a metal known to induce oxyradical production. Iron ore powder initiated ascorbic acid-dependent lipid peroxidation (nonenzymatic) in liposomes, lipids extracted from rat and salmon liver microsomes, and intact salmon liver microsomes. It also revealed an inhibitory effect of NADPH-dependent microsomes lipid peroxidation as well as on NADPH cytochrome c reductase activity. However, nonenzymatic peroxidation in rat liver microsomes was not significantly inhibited. Cytochrome P450 IA1- and IIB1-dependent enzymatic activities as well as P450 levels were not affected. The inhibition could be due to one of the other components of iron ore leachate (Mn, Al,ellipsis, ). These effects of iron-ore leachate indicate that a potential toxicity could be associated with its release into lakes. Further studies are necessary to explore in vivo effects on aquatic animals.

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