Aquatic Geochemistry

, Volume 21, Issue 2–4, pp 231–257 | Cite as

Metals in the Aquatic Environment—Interactions and Implications for the Speciation and Bioavailability: A Critical Overview

  • Rute F. Domingos
  • Alexandre Gélabert
  • Sara Carreira
  • Ana Cordeiro
  • Yann Sivry
  • Marc F. Benedetti
Original Paper


In most case scenarios, individual metals exist as components in mixtures with organic and inorganic substances and/or particulate matter. While the concepts encompassing mixture toxicity and modeling have been around for decades, only recently have new approaches (dynamic speciation techniques and fate and bioavailability models) been expanded to consider metal mixture scenarios. For example, the kinetic features of humic substances and inorganic colloids on the complexation of metals are generally considered. Although current environmental regulations rarely require an assessment of chemicals mixtures, research on these mixtures in the environment is essential for future regulatory demands and is vital for ensuring adequate environmental protection. Interpretation of speciation and bioavailability data from metal mixtures can be very complex and demanding, due to the existence of kinetic physicochemical transformations of the dynamic components. This kinetic effect largely affects metals’ dynamic speciation, culminating in different transformed metal-containing products with different contributions for the metal uptake by a consuming interface. This manuscript is focused on the environmental fate of metal mixtures, which determines how the mixture is biogeochemically processed and which receptors are most exposed (organisms and exposure route), with a special focus on their dynamic speciation, including a critical evaluation of the current challenges and available dynamic speciation techniques as well as computer codes and models.


Metals Colloidal particles Speciation Bioavailability Analytical techniques Models 



Funding for this work was provided by (1) Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT, Portugal): Science 2008 IST-CQE3 “Environmental Chemistry” Assistant Researcher position to RFD and Project PTDC/AAC-AMB/110595/2009, and (2) ANR-FCT project No. 12-IS06-0001–SPECIES: “Mesure in situ de la spéciation des métaux trace”, by ANR Project Norma RHIZO, call CES 2009 (09-CESA-010) and PIREN Seine project Phase 5 and 6.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rute F. Domingos
    • 1
  • Alexandre Gélabert
    • 2
  • Sara Carreira
    • 1
  • Ana Cordeiro
    • 1
  • Yann Sivry
    • 2
  • Marc F. Benedetti
    • 2
  1. 1.Centro de Química Estrutural, Instituto Superior TécnicoUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, Sorbonne Paris Cité, UMR CNRS 7154Université Paris DiderotParis Cedex 05France

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