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Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2014 Jan;66(1):58-68. doi: 10.1007/s00244-013-9956-7. Epub 2013 Oct 19.

Application of a unique test design to determine the chronic toxicity of boron to the aquatic worm Lumbriculus variegatus and fatmucket mussel Lampsilis siliquoidea.

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ENVIRON International Corporation, 201 Summit View Drive Suite 300, Brentwood, TN, USA,


The chronic (21- and 28-day) toxicity of boron was determined for two freshwater benthic macroinvertebrates: the fatmucket mussel Lampsilis siliquoidea and the aquatic worm Lumbriculus variegatus. The rapid depletion of boric acid from spiked sediments in tests using flow-through overlying waters was addressed by constant addition of boric acid to overlying water at concentrations matching those of the targeted porewater exposures. This proved highly successful in maintaining constant whole-sediment and sediment porewater boron concentrations. Boron sublethal 25 % inhibition concentration values based on porewater concentrations were 25.9 mg B/L (L. variegatus) and 38.5 mg B/L (L. siliquoidea), indicating similar test organism sensitivity. Expressed as dry whole-sediment values, the respective L. variegatus and L. siliquoidea sublethal (growth) IC25 values for whole-sediment exposures were 235.5 mg B/kg sediment dry weight (dw) and 310.6 mg B/kg dw. The worm lethality-based end points indicated greater sensitivity than the sublethal end points, bringing into question the validity of a "lethality" end point for L. variegatus given its fragmentation mode of reproduction. For comparison, water-only mussel exposures were tested resulting in an IC25 value of 34.6 mg B/L, which was within 20 % of the porewater value. This suggests that the primary route of boron exposure was through the aqueous phase. The results of this study indicated that for test materials that are readily water soluble, standard sediment test designs may be unsuitable, but water-only exposures can provide toxicological data representative of sediment tests.

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