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Chemosphere. 2006 Feb;62(6):998-1010. Epub 2005 Sep 6.

Exposure of caged mussels to metals in a primary-treated municipal wastewater plume.

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St. Lawrence Centre, Environment Canada, 105 McGill St., 7th floor, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2Y 2E7.


The biological availability of metals in municipal wastewater effluents is strongly influenced by the physical and chemical conditions of both the effluent and the receiving water. Aquatic organisms are exposed to both dissolved and particulate (food ingestion) forms of these metals. In the present study, the distribution of metals in specific tissues was used to distinguish between exposure routes (i.e. dissolved vs. particulate phase) and to examine metal bioavailability in mussels exposed to municipal effluents. Caged Elliptio complanata mussels were deployed at sites located between 1.5 km upstream and 12 km downstream of a major effluent outfall in the St. Lawrence River. Metals in surface water samples were fractionated by filtration techniques to determine their dissolved, truly-dissolved (<10 kDa), total-particulate and acid-reactive-particulate forms. At the end of the exposure period (90 days), pooled mussel soft tissues (digestive gland, gills, gonad, foot and mantle) were analyzed for several metals. The results showed that gills and digestive gland were generally the most important target tissues for metal bioaccumulation, while gill/digestive gland metal ratios suggest that both exposure routes should be considered for mussels exposed to municipal effluents. We also found that Ag and Cd in the dispersion plume nearest the outfall, in contrast to other metals such as Cu and Zn, are more closely associated with colloids and were generally less bioavailable than at the reference site in the St. Lawrence River.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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