Causes of Sediment Toxicity to Mytilus galloprovincialis in San Francisco Bay, California
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- Phillips, ., Anderson, ., Hunt, . et al. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol (2003) 45: 492. doi:10.1007/s00244-003-0231-1
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Since the San Francisco Regional Monitoring Program (RMP) sampling began, elutriate samples prepared with sediment from the Grizzly Bay monitoring station have been consistently toxic to bivalve larvae (Mytilus galloprovincialis). An investigation into the cause of toxicity was initiated with a Phase I Toxicity Identification Evaluation (TIE) using bivalve embryos. TIE results and chemical analyses of elutriate samples suggested that divalent metals were responsible for the observed toxicity. Following the initial characterization of trace metals as toxicants, additional TIEs were performed on elutriates prepared from three additional Grizzly Bay samples collected between 1997 and 2001. Additional TIEs included ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA) treatments in a sediment-water interface (SWI) exposure system, and the use of a cation exchange column with serial elution of sample fractions with hydrochloric acid of increasing normality. EDTA significantly reduced toxicity in overlying water in the SWI system. The cation exchange column reduced both toxicity and concentrations of trace metals, and serial elution of the column added back both toxicity and specific metals contained in individual acid fractions. Chemical analyses of three elutriate samples demonstrated copper concentrations were within the range toxic to bivalves. Results of Phase I TIEs, additional Phase II treatments, SWI exposures, and metals analyses indicate the potential for metal toxicity in sediments from this estuarine site. When combined with the results of standard TIE methods, a solid-phase cation extraction and elution approach identified copper as the most probable cause of toxicity.