Toxicity of Chromium (VI) to Two Mussels and an Amphipod in Water-Only Exposures With or Without a Co-stressor of Elevated Temperature, Zinc, or Nitrate

  • Ning Wang
  • James L. Kunz
  • Christopher D. Ivey
  • Christopher G. Ingersoll
  • M. Christopher Barnhart
  • Elizabeth A. Glidewell


The objectives of the present study were to develop methods for propagating western pearlshell (Margaritifera falcata) for laboratory toxicity testing and evaluate acute and chronic toxicity of chromium VI [Cr(VI)] to the pearlshell and a commonly tested mussel (fatmucket, Lampsilis siliquoidea at 20 °C or in association with a co-stressor of elevated temperature (27 °C), zinc (50 µg Zn/L), or nitrate (35 mg NO3/L). A commonly tested invertebrate (amphipod, Hyalella azteca) also was tested in chronic exposures. Newly transformed pearlshell (~1 week old) were successfully cultured and tested in acute 96 h Cr exposures (control survival 100%). However, the grow-out of juveniles in culture for chronic toxicity testing was less successful and chronic 28-day Cr toxicity tests started with 4 month-old pearlshell failed due to low control survival (39–68%). Acute median effect concentration (EC50) for the pearlshell (919 µg Cr/L) and fatmucket (456 µg Cr/L) tested at 20 °C without a co-stressor decreased by a factor of > 2 at elevated temperature but did not decrease at elevated Zn or elevated NO3. Chronic 28-day Cr tests were completed successfully with the fatmucket and amphipod (control survival 83–98%). Chronic maximum acceptable toxicant concentration (MATC) for fatmucket at 20 °C (26 µg Cr/L) decreased by a factor of 2 at elevated temperature or NO3 but did not decrease at elevated Zn. However, chronic MATC for amphipod at 20 °C (13 µg Cr/L) did not decrease at elevated temperature, Zn, or NO3. Acute EC50s for both mussels tested with or without a co-stressor were above the final acute value used to derive United States Environmental Protection Agency acute water quality criterion (WQC) for Cr(VI); however, chronic MATCs for fatmucket at elevated temperature or NO3 and chronic MATCs for the amphipod at 20 °C with or without elevated Zn or NO3 were about equal to the chronic WQC. The results indicate that (1) the elevated temperature increased the acute Cr toxicity to both mussel species, (2) fatmucket was acutely more sensitive to Cr than the pearlshell, (3) elevated temperature or NO3 increased chronic Cr toxicity to fatmucket, and (4) acute WQC are protective of tested mussels with or without a co-stressor; however, the chronic WQC might not protect fatmucket at elevated temperature or NO3 and might not protect the amphipod at 20 °C with or without elevated Zn or NO3.


United States Environmental Protection Agency Water Quality Criterion Mussel Species Supplemental Data Table Chronic Toxicity Test 



This project was sponsored in part by United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under Inter/Intra-Agency Agreement 4500034106 and United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) under Interagency Agreement/Amendment DW-14-95822701-0. The authors thank the members of the Hanford Natural Resource Trustee Council, and Burt Shephard and Teresa Norberg-King of the USEPA for their suggestions on study designs. The authors also thank the staff in the Toxicology Branch and Environmental Chemistry Branch of the United States Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research Center, for technical assistance, Howard JK of the Nature Conservancy, CA, for collecting adult western pearlshell, and two anonymous journal reviewers for their comments. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the USFWS and USEPA. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the United States Government.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 101 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ning Wang
    • 1
  • James L. Kunz
    • 1
  • Christopher D. Ivey
    • 1
  • Christopher G. Ingersoll
    • 1
  • M. Christopher Barnhart
    • 2
  • Elizabeth A. Glidewell
    • 2
  1. 1.United States Geological SurveyColumbia Environmental Research CenterColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyMissouri State UniversitySpringfieldUSA

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