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Comparative animal and plant toxicities of 10 treated effluents discharged to near-coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico

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The chemical quality and acute and chronic toxicities of 10 effluents discharged to near-coastal areas in Northwest Florida were determined using standard and nonstandard toxicity tests. The primary objectives of the study were to evaluate and compare the toxicities of different types of effluents and to assess the ability of a variety of toxicity tests to differentiate effluent-specific effects. Focus was placed on animal–plant sensitivity comparisons because phytotoxicity is rarely determined for effluents discharged to coastal estuaries. The standard toxicity test organisms included two algae, two invertebrates, and two fish. In addition, effluent toxicity was evaluated using three rapid bioassays and an early-seedling-growth toxicity test. Most concentrations of potentially toxic inorganic and organic contaminants in the effluents were low, a finding that contrasted with the sometimes elevated biochemical oxygen demand and nutrient concentrations. With the exception of their effects on algae, the toxicities of most effluents were considered moderate. Chronic effects on Ceriodaphnia dubia and Mysidopsis bahia were observed consistently for five effluents; the lowest first-effect levels were typically 35 or 71% effluent. Inhibitory effects on fish and macrophyte seedling growth were infrequent, as were those determined using the three rapid bioassays. Nine of the ten effluents were either phytotoxic or phytostimulatory to algae; first effects were noted in some cases at effluent concentrations less than 6%. Overall, the results indicate the importance of using invertebrates, but more so algae, as test species in the hazard-evaluation process for effluents discharged to Gulf of Mexico near-coastal areas, which are frequently nutrient-affected. Furthermore, additional development of tests using rooted aquatic plants is needed because the effects of effluents in this coastal area on plant-dominated coastal habitats (wetlands) and on plant species at risk (sea grasses) are not well understood.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 1998

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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