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Sci Total Environ. 2004 Jun 29;326(1-3):1-31.

Review of selenium toxicity in the aquatic food chain.

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US Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research Center, 31247 436th Avenue, Biological Resources Division, Yankton, SD 57078-6364, USA.


In many environmental contaminant situations selenium has become the primary element of concern because of its bioaccumulative nature in food webs. Initial concerns about selenium were related to fish kills at Belews Lake, NC, Martin Lake, TX, and Kesterson Reservoir, CA, and to bird deformities at Kesterson Reservoir. Additional concerns were identified under the National Irrigation Water Quality Program at Salton Sea, CA, Kendrick, WY, Stewart Lake, UT, and Grand Valley and Uncompahgre Valley, CO. Recent studies have raised concerns about selenium impacts on aquatic resources in Southeastern Idaho and British Columbia. The growing discomfort among the scientific community with a waterborne criterion has lead the US Environment Protection Agency to consider a tissue-based criterion for selenium. Some aquatic ecosystems have been slow to recover from selenium contamination episodes. In recent years, non-governmental researchers have been proposing relatively high selenium thresholds in diet and tissue relative to those proposed by governmental researchers. This difference in opinions is due in part to the selection of datasets and caveats in selecting scientific literature. In spite of the growing selenium literature, there are needs for additional research on neglected organisms. This review also discusses the interaction of selenium with other elements, inconsistent effects of selenium on survival and growth of fish, and differences in depuration rates and sensitivity among species.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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