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Environ Sci Technol. 2004 Feb 15;38(4):1003-8.

Cadmium bioavailability and accumulation in the presence of humic acid to the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha.

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Ecophysiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology Group, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerp, Belgium.


Metal speciation in aquatic systems is mainly determined by the type and concentration of ligands present in solution. A very important group of complexing agents is dissolved organic matter (DOM), e.g., humic and fulvic acids. According to the free-ion activity model, only the free metal ion is available to biota. Nevertheless, DOM has been reported to decrease or increase metal uptake, leading to uncertainty concerning the bioavailability of metal-DOM complexes. In this work the effect of Aldrich humic acid on cadmium accumulation by the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, was studied under laboratory conditions. Mussels, collected in a drinking water reservoir, were exposed to varying environmentally relevant concentrations of cadmium in the presence and absence of humic acid. Cadmium concentrations in the mussel tissues were analyzed, and measurements with a cadmium-ion-selective electrode were made to determine the free cadmium ion activity in the exposure waters. The uptake of humic acid by the zebra mussels was measured by the decrease of the total organic carbon (TOC) concentration in the water over time. The free cadmium ion activity in the water decreased from 51.6% to 19.9% of the total cadmium concentration in the presence of humic acid. This decrease by a factor of 2.6 resulted in a decrease in the cadmium uptake rate in the soft tissue of zebra mussels from 12.9 to 7.9 nmol/g dry wt/day, which corresponds to a decrease by a factor of 1.6. This implies that cadmium uptake rates were higher than predicted by the free-ion activity model and indicates that cadmium-humic acid complexes are partly available to zebra mussels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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