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Environ Sci Technol. 2011 Apr 1;45(7):3082-9. doi: 10.1021/es103349a. Epub 2011 Feb 25.

Dissolved organic carbon reduces uranium bioavailability and toxicity. 2. Uranium[VI] speciation and toxicity to three tropical freshwater organisms.

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Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, GPO Box 461, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia 0801.


The influence of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) on the toxicity of uranium (U) to three Australian tropical freshwater species, the Northern Trout Gudgeon (Mogurnda mogurnda), green hydra (Hydra viridissima) and unicellular green alga (Chlorella sp.) was assessed. Exposures were conducted in synthetic soft water without DOC and with DOC added in the form of standard Suwannee River Fulvic Acid (SRFA). Organisms were exposed to a range of U concentrations at a range of DOC concentrations (0-20 mg L(-1)). U toxicity was up to 20 times less in water containing 20 mg L(-1) DOC, relative to DOC-free test waters. U toxicity was also assessed using natural water from a tropical Australian billabong containing 10 mg L(-1) DOC. U toxicity was up to ten times less in the billabong water, relative to DOC--free test waters. SRFA was twice as effective at reducing U toxicity as the billabong water at equivalent DOC concentrations. Geochemical speciation modeling confirmed the decreased U toxicity that resulted from both DOC sources was primarily due to a decrease in the free uranyl ion (UO2(2+)) through complexation with DOC. A predictive model is presented for each of the organisms that can be used to predict U toxicity at a given U and DOC concentration.

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