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Environ Sci Technol. 2002 Jan 1;36(1):48-54.

A biotic ligand model predicting acute copper toxicity for Daphnia magna: the effects of calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and pH.

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Laboratory for Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology, Ghent University, Belgium.


The extent to which Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+ ions and pH independently mitigate acute copper toxicity for the cladoceran Daphnia magna was examined. Higher activities of Ca2+, Mg2+, and Na+ (but not K+) linearly increased the 48-h EC50 (as Cu2+ activity), supporting the concept of competitive binding of these ions and copper ions to toxic action or transport sites at the organism-water interface (e.g. fish gill, the biotic ligand). The increase of the EC50 (as Cu2+ activity) with increasing H+, however, seemed to suggest cotoxicity of CuOH+ rather than proton competition. Based on the biotic ligand model (BLM) concept, we developed a methodology to estimate stability constants for the binding of Cu2+, CuOH+, Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, and H+ to the biotic ligand, solely based on toxicity data. Following values were obtained: log K(CuBL) = 8.02, log K(CuOHBL)= 7.45, log K(CaBL) = 3.47, log K(MgBL) = 3.58, log K(NaBL) = 3.19, and log K(HBL) approximately 5.4. Further, we calculated that on average 39% of the biotic ligand sites need to be occupied by copper to induce a 50% acute effect for D. magna after 48 h of exposure. Using the estimated constants, a BLM was developed that can predict acute copper toxicity for D. magna as a function of water characteristics. The presented methodology can easily be applied for BLM development for other organisms and metals. After validation with laboratory and natural waters (including DOC), the developed model will support efforts to improve the ecological relevance of presently applied risk assessment procedures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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