Selenium Assessment in Aquatic Ecosystems

Part of the series Springer Series on Environmental Management pp 61-88

Protocol for Aquatic Hazard Assessment

  • A. Dennis LemlyAffiliated withUS Forest Service Southern Research Station, Coldwater Fisheries Research Unit

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Agencies that manage natural resources and regulate water quality are becoming aware of the toxic threat posed by selenium, and much time and effort is being expended to monitor selenium concentrations in aquatic habitats. Once these data are collected, it is essential to conduct an overall evaluation and determine the degree of hazard present in order to identify appropriate management actions and develop local water quality criteria to protect aquatic life. However, few comprehensive hazard assessments have been completed. There are two likely reasons for this. First, it has been difficult for those conducting the monitoring programs to determine the toxicological significance of selenium residues in aquatic organisms. Locating, obtaining, and interpreting the results of selenium toxicity tests for a variety of aquatic species is a difficult task because of the time required. Fortunately, this type of information synthesis has been done. Guidelines are now available for evaluating selenium in food-chain organisms and fish and aquatic bird tissues based on an extensive amount of toxicological information (see Chapter 2). Interpreting selenium residues is no longer a problem.