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Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2012 Feb;62(2):272-81. doi: 10.1007/s00244-011-9698-3. Epub 2011 Aug 3.

Acute toxicity of zinc to several aquatic species native to the Rocky Mountains.

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Colorado Division of Wildlife, 317 West Prospect Rd., Fort Collins, CO, USA.


National water-quality criteria for the protection of aquatic life are based on toxicity tests, often using organisms that are easy to culture in the laboratory. Species native to the Rocky Mountains are poorly represented in data sets used to derive national water-quality criteria. To provide additional data on the toxicity of zinc, several laboratory acute-toxicity tests were conducted with a diverse assortment of fish, benthic invertebrates, and an amphibian native to the Rocky Mountains. Tests with fish were conducted using three subspecies of cutthroat trout (Colorado River cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii pleuriticus, greenback cutthroat trout O. clarkii stomias, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout O. clarkii virginalis), mountain whitefish (Prosopium williamsoni), mottled sculpin (Cottus bairdi), longnose dace (Rhinichthys cataractae), and flathead chub (Platygobio gracilis). Aquatic invertebrate tests were conducted with mayflies (Baetis tricaudatus, Drunella doddsi, Cinygmula sp. and Ephemerella sp.), a stonefly (Chloroperlidae), and a caddis fly (Lepidostoma sp.). The amphibian test was conducted with tadpoles of the boreal toad (Bufo boreas). Median lethal concentrations (LC(50)s) ranged more than three orders of magnitude from 166 μg/L for Rio Grande cutthroat trout to >67,000 μg/L for several benthic invertebrates. Of the organisms tested, vertebrates were the most sensitive, and benthic invertebrates were the most tolerant.

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