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Water Res. 2014 Jan 1;48:126-36. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2013.09.019. Epub 2013 Sep 19.

Derivation of guideline values for gold (III) ion toxicity limits to protect aquatic ecosystems.

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Department of Environmental Health Science, Konkuk University, 1 Hwayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul 143-701, Republic of Korea.


This study focused on estimating the toxicity values of various aquatic organisms exposed to gold (III) ion (Au(3+)), and to propose maximum guideline values for Au(3+) toxicity that protect the aquatic ecosystem. A comparative assessment of methods developed in Australia and New Zealand versus the European Community (EC) was conducted. The test species used in this study included two bacteria (Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis), one alga (Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata), one euglena (Euglena gracilis), three cladocerans (Daphnia magna, Moina macrocopa, and Simocephalus mixtus), and two fish (Danio rerio and Oryzias latipes). Au(3+) induced growth inhibition, mortality, immobilization, and/or developmental malformations in all test species, with responses being concentration-dependent. According to the moderate reliability method of Australia and New Zealand, 0.006 and 0.075 mg/L of guideline values for Au(3+) were obtained by dividing 0.33 and 4.46 mg/L of HC5 and HC50 species sensitivity distributions (SSD) with an FACR (Final Acute to Chronic Ratio) of 59.09. In contrast, the EC method uses an assessment factor (AF), with the 0.0006 mg/L guideline value for Au(3+) being divided with the 48-h EC50 value for 0.60 mg/L (the lowest toxicity value obtained from short term results) by an AF of 1000. The Au(3+) guideline value derived using an AF was more stringent than the SSD. We recommend that more toxicity data using various bioassays are required to develop more accurate ecological risk assessments. More chronic/long-term exposure studies on sensitive endpoints using additional fish species and invertebrates not included in the current dataset will be needed to use other derivation methods (e.g., US EPA and Canadian Type A) or the "High Reliability Method" from Australia/New Zealand. Such research would facilitate the establishment of guideline values for various pollutants that reflect the universal effects of various pollutants in aquatic ecosystems. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to suggest guideline values for Au(3+) levels permitted to enter freshwater environments.


Aquatic ecosystem; Gold (III) ion (Au(3+)); Guidelines; Predicted no-effect concentration (PNEC); Species sensitivity distribution (SSD)

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