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Bioavailability and toxicity of heavy metals in the presence of natural organic matter.

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Department of Planning and Regional Development, University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece.


The effect of humic acids (HA) on the toxicity of copper, zinc and lead was investigated in this study, using the photobacterium Vibrio fischeri (Microtox test) as a test organism. The metal species and the complexation capacity of HA were predicted using model WinHumicV for speciation modeling. The toxicities of copper and lead were generally comparable, while the toxicity of zinc was lower than the ones of the other two method. The toxicity of copper decreased with the addition of HA, while the toxicity of zinc remained almost constant. The complexation of Zn with HA was low. Thus the presence of HA did not significantly influence the toxicity of Zn. For Cu and Zn, the free metal ion species showed to be basically responsible for the toxicity of these metals, while for Pb the chlorocomplexes and Pb-HA complexes contributed to the toxicity of Pb, indicating that the toxicity of heavy metals depends not only on the free metal ion species concentration but on different metal species that may be bioavailable.

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