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Soft and sour: The challenge of setting environmental quality standards for bioavailable metal concentration in Fennoscandinavian freshwaters
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry.
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Number of Authors: 5
2015 (English)In: Environmental Science and Policy, ISSN 1462-9011, E-ISSN 1873-6416, Vol. 54, 210-217 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires member states to ensure that all inland and coastal waters achieve 'good' water quality status. To this end, the WFD has set environmental quality standards (EQS) or Water quality criteria (WQC) for priority pollutants that include the four metals Cd, Ni, Pb and Hg. Many states have also chosen to set EQS for Cu and Zn. The use of bioavailability models to set EQS, paves the way for accepting higher local metal concentrations in waters where metal bioavailability is deemed low. The Biotic Ligand Model (BLM) concept has been proposed as a tool for estimating metal bioavailability and for calculating local EQS in the EU guidance document. The BLM estimates metal bioavailability based on the dissolved metal concentration and key ancillary water chemistry parameters (acidity, hardness and organic carbon content). The BLMs developed so far, have only been validated for water chemistry input parameters typical of Central Europe. However, the pH, alkalinity and dissolved organic carbon levels of a significant fraction of Fennoscandinavian (Finland, Norway and Sweden) freshwaters are outside the calibration range of currently available BLMs. The levels of Ca2+, alkalinity and pH in 75%, 29% and 22%, respectively, of the ca. 2500 Fennoscandinavian freshwater bodies investigated in this survey were outside the calibration range of tested BLMs. Moreover, a comparison of the ability of the tested BLMs to predict the acute and chronic copper toxicity to Daphnia magma and Rainbow trout indicated that the BLMs should be used with caution outside their current validation range. We conclude that more work is needed to extend the application of BLMs in the practical risk assessment to encompass a broader range of European freshwater bodies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 54, 210-217 p.
Keyword [en]
Bioavailability tools, BLM, Fennoscandinavian, Soft freshwater, Copper, Zinc, Nickel, EQS
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Applied Environmental Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-122908DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2015.07.007ISI: 000362603400022OAI: diva2:871946
Available from: 2015-11-17 Created: 2015-11-11 Last updated: 2016-01-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Biotic Ligand model: A tool for risk assessment of metals in Scandinavian fresh waters?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Biotic Ligand model: A tool for risk assessment of metals in Scandinavian fresh waters?
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Products from iron and copper mining are among Sweden’s top exports. However, as the metals are excavated, they often end up in the aquatic environment where they can cause toxicity. To implement the Water Framework Directive (WFD) within the European Union, all member states must classify their waters and set local environmental quality standards (EQS). These EQS are used to set the maximum concentration of a metal allowed in water and can be set both by the Swedish EPA and EU. The WFD EQS are to be based on the bioavailable metal fraction, as compared to the total metal concentration as have been used previously. As a tool in setting EQS, bioavailability models, like the biotic ligand model (BLM), have been proposed. BLMs can calculate toxicity endpoints based on water chemistry and organismal response and these predictions can be used for regional EQS values.

However, BLMs are often calibrated toward hard waters with neutral or high pH, containing low concentrations of natural organic material (NOM), a water chemistry most commonly found in the central and southern parts of Europe. The overarching aim of this doctoral thesis was, therefore, to assess the regulatory applicability of Cu BLMs for Swedish conditions.

Results from Paper I and II show that for at least 50% of Fennoscandinavian (Sweden, Finland and Norway) freshwater bodies, the models are not fully applicable. This due to crucial model input parameters being outside of the current calibration range of the Cu BLM. Papers II and III further showed that BLM calculated results differed from measured Cu toxicity to daphnids and algae, indicating that model-based EQS will not be protective for these organisms. Moreover, Paper III showed that Al had an impact on Cu speciation and, hence, toxicity. In conclusion, the present thesis shows that several available Cu BLMs are not yet fully applicable for Swedish or Scandinavian freshwater bodies due to incomplete parameterisation of the models.  To improve the applicability of the models, there is a need to calibrate the models for soft freshwater bodies and include Al and NOM properties as input parameters.

Abstract [sv]

Produkter från metallindustrin är bland Sveriges viktigaste exportprodukter. Metallutvinning leder dock till utsläpp som kan hamna i den akvatiska miljön och där orsaka toxicitet. Europeiska Unionens Vattendirektiv syftar till att alla medlemsstater ska klassificera sina vatten och ta fram miljökvalitetsnormer. Dessa normer ska baseras på den biotillgängliga fasen av metaller istället för den totala som tidigare. Biotiska ligand modeller (BLM) har förts fram som verktyg i denna process.

BLM kan beräkna utsläppsnivåer för sötvatten baserat på rådande vattenkemi samt vattenorganismers känslighet och ger användaren en specifikt anpassad rekommendation (LC/EC50, NOEC, PNEC o.s.v.).

Dock är dessa modeller ofta kalibrerade för en vattenkemi gällande i de centrala och södra delarna av Europa. I Sverige är det vanligt med sura mjuka vatten, vilka har en högre koncentration av biotillgängliga metaller vilka kan orsaka toxicitet. Det övergripande syftet med denna doktorsavhandling var att undersöka hur dagens BLM för koppar (Cu) fungerar för svenska sötvatten.

Resultaten från Artikel I och II visar att en stor del av de Fennoskandinaviska vatten som testats faller utanför kalibreringsintervallet för BLM.

Vidare visar Artikel III och IV att de testade modellerna inte på ett korrekt sätt kunde uppskatta toxicitet för alger och vattenloppor, vilket innebär att de inte räknar ut skyddande rekommendationer för dessa arter. Det var även tydligt i Artikel IV att aluminium (Al) påverkar kopparspecieringen och genom detta även koppars toxicitet. Sammanfattningsvis visar denna avhandling att flera tillgängliga BLM inte är helt applicerbara i mjuka vatten, ofta p.g.a. opassande intervall för de kemiska parametrarna. För att förbättra tillämpbarheten av BLMs i Sverige krävs det att modellerna dels kalibreras för den rådande vattenkemin och dels att Al och NOMs egenskaper inkluderas.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, 2016. 40 p.
BLM, Soft freshwaters, Sweden, Cu
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Applied Environmental Science
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-124330 (URN)978-91-7649-301-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-02-19, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2006-638
Available from: 2016-01-27 Created: 2015-12-17 Last updated: 2016-01-12Bibliographically approved

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