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Trace metal bioaccumulation: models, metabolic availability and toxicity

Author(s): Rainbow PS


Aquatic invertebrates take up and accumulate trace metals whether essential or non-essential, all of which have the potential to cause toxic effects. Subsequent tissue and body concentrations of accumulated trace metals show enormous variability across metals and invertebrate taxa. Accumulated metal concentrations are interpreted in terms of different trace metal accumulation patterns, dividing accumulated metals into two components — metabolically available metal and stored detoxified metal. Examples of different accumulation patterns are described from crustaceans but have a general applicability to all aquatic invertebrates. Toxicity does not depend on total accumulated metal concentration but is related to a threshold concentration of internal metabolically available metal. Toxicity ensues when the rate of metal uptake from all sources exceeds the combined rates of detoxification and excretion (if present) of the metal concerned. The biodynamic model of trace metal bioaccumulation allows the prediction and explanation of widely differing accumulated trace metal concentrations in organisms, combining geochemical analyses of environmental metal concentrations with the measurement of key physiological parameters for a species from the site under consideration. The combination of the biodynamic model as a unified explanation of metal bioaccumulation with an understanding of the relationship between accumulation and toxicity sets the stage for a realistic understanding of the significance of trace metal concentrations in aquatic invertebrates.

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