The Water Effects Ratio allows regulators to modify the water quality criteria of metals based on the knowledge that complexing a metal generally reduces its toxicity. Using this logic, the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority was granted a temporary variance based on bioavailable
metal concentration for groundwater discharged into the L.A.-Long Beach Harbor in California. Chelex-labile copper, used as a surrogate for bioavailable copper, was measured using Chelex-100 resin combined with graphite furnace-atomic absorption spectrophotometry (CRC-GFAAS). Ethylendiaminetetraacetic
acid (EDTA) was added on-site to a concentration of 10–60 mg L −1 in order to reduce the bioavailable fraction to non-detectable levels, however unexpectedly only ∼50% of the available copper was chelated. This partial complexation of the copper was due to
high iron concentrations in the industrial mixture of EDTA used for the project, whereas pure EDTA was shown to fully chelate the copper. This technique may hold promise for similar short-term projects.
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