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An assessment was made to determine if impact to aquatic life in an intermittent stream had occurred due to selenium in an oil refinery wastewater discharge and to address the efficacy of a site-specific selenium criterion for this region. The assessment included: an aquatic ecology survey of in-stream biota, water, and sediments; necropsy examination of representative fish tissue; and a study of the bioaccumulative effects of selenium on Daphnia magna. An evaluation of habitat, community structure, and biological integrity (IBI) determined that the stream was slightly impacted in several downstream reaches.

Because tissue levels of selenium were greater than previously reported to induce selenium toxicosis in several fish species, necropsy and histopathological examination of fish tissue was performed. These examinations revealed no internal signs of selenium-induced stress. Because the benthic invertebrates contained the greatest level of selenium of the trophic levels evaluated, selenium bioaccumulation potential and effects on reproductive performance were evaluated by exposing D. magna to 12.8 μg/L, 35 μg/L, and 45 μg/L selenium over three successive generations.

Results from these studies indicated that generational selenium bioaccumulation was approximately two-fold and that the increased selenium levels positively correlated with increased reproductive performance. These results indicated that the levels of selenium detected in the stream and associated biota were not deleterious, warranting re-evaluation of the current limitations for selenium discharge using site-specific information obtained from this study.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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