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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2001 Sep;20(9):1916-26.

Distribution, speciation, and bioavailability of lanthanides in the Rhine-Meuse estuary, The Netherlands.

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Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands.


Changing environmental conditions may influence the fate and bioavailability of lanthanides (part of the rare earth elements [Ln]) in estuaries. The aim of this study was to quantify the variation in estuarine lanthanide solid/water distribution, speciation, and bioaccumulation. The latter was studied in the amphipod Corophium volutator under field and laboratory conditions. Calculations with the chemical equilibrium model MINEQL+ indicate that dissolved lanthanides are complexed mainly to carbonates and dissolved organic matter. In the water phase, the relative abundance of the free ion, LnCO3, and humic complexes decreases from lanthanum to lutetium, whereas the relative abundance of Ln(CO3)2 increases. Cerium and europium anomalies were found in the water. Europium anomalies were also found in some biota. The biota sediment accumulation factors (BSAFs) decreased across the series from lanthanum to lutetium. Regression analysis revealed that alkalinity correlated negatively with lanthanide uptake. This suggests that increasing complexation reduced bioavailability under the prevailing conditions. The BSAFs did not depend on salinity or pH, which may simplify sediment-quality criteria for fresh versus saline waters. Field BSAFs were significantly lower than laboratory values for the same sediments, which is explained by adaptation of the organisms to lanthanides.

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