Systematic Evaluation of Chronic Metal-Mixture Toxicity to Three Species and Implications for Risk Assessment.Environ Sci Technol. 2017 04 18; 51(8):4615-4623.ES
Metal contamination generally occurs as mixtures. However, it is yet unresolved how to address metal mixtures in risk assessment. Therefore, using consistent methodologies, we have set up experiments to identify which mixture model applies best at low-level effects, i.e., the independent action (IA) or concentration addition (CA) reference model. The toxicity of metal mixtures (Ni, Zn, Cu, Cd, and Pb) to Daphnia magna, Ceriodaphnia dubia, and Hordeum vulgare was investigated in different waters or soils, totaling 30 different experiments. Some mixtures of different metals, each individually causing <10% inhibition, yielded much larger inhibition (up to 66%) when dosed in combination. In general, IA was most accurate in predicting mixture toxicity, while CA was the most conservative. At low-effect levels important in risk assessments, CA overestimated mixture toxicity to daphnids and H. vulgare, on average, with a factor 1.4 to 3.6. Observed mixture interactions could be related to bioavailability or by competition interactions, either for binding sites of dissolved organic carbon or for biotic ligand sites. Our study suggests that the current metal-by-metal approach in risk evaluations may not be conservative enough for metal mixtures.