, Volume 13, Issue 9, pp 1611-1625
Date: 01 Aug 2013

Integrated toxicity evaluation of a pulp deposit using organisms of different trophic levels

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Abstract

Purpose

In order to assess possible adverse effects originating from pulp deposits in a Swiss lake, a sediment quality triad approach was applied with chemical, ecotoxicological and ecological assessment methods.

Materials and methods

To obtain an integrative picture of the potential ecotoxicological effects on organisms of different trophic levels, four test procedures were applied. The acute effects of pulp deposit pore water on a decomposer, the amphipod Gammarus fossarum, were monitored. Chronic toxicity of the pore water was evaluated on primary producers via a growth inhibition test with unicellular green algae (Pseudokirchneriella subcapitata) and on secondary consumers in a reproduction test with the water flea Ceriodaphnia dubia. To evaluate the effects of the pulp deposit on sediment inhabitants, a whole-life-cycle test with the non-biting midge Chironomus riparius was undertaken. Chemical assessment included dissolved organic carbon, extractable organic halogenic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals. The composition of the macrozoobenthos community was analysed in order to assess the ecological effects.

Results and discussion

G. fossarum displayed increased locomotor activity at 12.5% but not at 25% sample concentration during a short-time exposure of 20 h. Chronic effects compromised the reproduction and growth of C. dubia (lowest observed effect concentration, 12.5% sample concentration) with zero population growth in 100% pulp deposit pore water. In 100% pulp deposit, C. riparius exhibited increased mortality at 10 and 17 days after oviposition. Pulp deposits of 50% and 100% concentration caused a significantly lower emergence compared with the reference treatments (lake sediment and quartz sand). Additionally, the locomotor activity of chironomids decreased significantly in 25–100% pulp deposit. No chronic effects of pulp deposit pore water on algae photosynthesis and growth could be detected. The bioassay results were in accordance with an elevated content of PAHs, PCBs and metals in the pulp deposit. Significantly more organisms known to be tolerant to organic pollution were present within the macrozoobenthos community.

Conclusions

In general, for sediment inhabitants such as chironomids, the pulp deposit has to be classified toxic. In the present test setup, the toxicity of the pulp deposit was reflected better by the chronic test systems applied than by the acute ones. The applied testing framework could be a suitable tool to assess the risk of contaminated sites, and this information will help decide whether risk mitigation measures should be taken. In addition, with a similar approach, the success of any mitigation measures taken can be assessed.

Responsible editor: Henner Hollert