Effects of dissolved organic matter and reduced sulphur on copper bioavailability in coastal marine environments.Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2011 Mar; 74(3):230-7.EE
Copper-induced toxicity in aqueous systems depends on its speciation and bioavailability. Natural organic matter (NOM) and reduced sulphur species can complex copper, influencing speciation and decreasing bioavailability. NOM composition in estuaries can vary, depending on inputs of terrigenous, autochthonous, or wastewater source material. At a molecular level, variability in NOM quality potentially results in different extents of copper binding. The aims of this study were to measure acute copper EC(50) values in coastal marine and estuarine waters, and identify the relationships between total dissolved copper EC(50) values and measured water chemistry parameters proportional to NOM and reduced sulphur composition. This has implications on the development of marine-specific toxicity prediction models. NOM was characterised using dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration and fluorescence measurements, combined with spectral resolution techniques, to quantify humic-, fulvic-, tryptophan-, and tyrosine-like fractions. Reduced sulphur was measured by the chromium-reducible sulphide (CRS) technique. Acute copper toxicity tests were performed on samples expressing extreme DOC, fluorescent terrigenous, autochthonous, and CRS concentrations. The results show significant differences in NOM quality, independent of DOC concentration. CRS is variable among the samples; concentrations ranging from 4 to 40 nM. The toxicity results suggest DOC as a very good predictive measure of copper EC(50) in estuaries (r(2)=0.87) independent of NOM quality. Furthermore, for filtered samples, CRS exists at concentrations that would be saturated with copper at measured EC(50), suggesting that while CRS might bind Cu and decrease bioavailability, it does not control copper speciation at toxicologically relevant concentrations and therefore is not a good predictive measure of copper toxicity in filtered samples.