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Environ Toxicol. 2001 Jun;16(3):197-208.

Preliminary risk assessment of the wet landscape option for reclamation of oil sands mine tailings: bioassays with mature fine tailings pore water.

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1
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1.

Abstract

Chemical and biological assays have been carried out on the "pore water" that results from the settling of the tailings that accompany bitumen recovery from the Athabasca oil sands. Examination of the nonacidic extracts of pore water by gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy allowed the identification of numerous two- to three-ring polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs), to a total concentration of 2.6 micrograms/L of pore water. The PACs were biodegraded by microflora naturally present in the pore water. Acute toxicity was associated principally with the acidic fraction (naphthenic acids) of pore water extracts according to the Microtox assay; other work has shown that acute toxicity dissipates fairly rapidly. Both individual PACs and concentrated pore water extracts showed minimal levels of binding to the rat Ah receptor and induced minimal ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase activity in primary rat hepatocytes, showing an insignificant risk of inducing monooxygenase activity. Taken together with previous work showing negligible mutagenic activity of these extracts, we conclude that it should be possible to develop tailing slurries into biologically productive artificial lakes.

PMID:
11409191
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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