K. Bundy1 and F. Mowat, Biomedical Engineering Department, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, 70118, Phone: 504-865-5897, FAX: 504-862-8779, 1Email: kbundy@mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu

ABSTRACT The Microtox(tm) bioassay and polarographic techniques were used together to identify specific oxidation states and toxicity of metals. The bioassay is based on light reduction by bioluminescent bacteria upon exposure to toxicants. In polarography, a mercury drop substrate's potential is changed, and the substance of interest is electrochemically reduced. Reduction current is proportional to its concentration. The toxicity of solutions containing heavy metal pollutants was measured. Mercury was found to be most toxic with an acute one minute EC50 of 0.0162 mg/l. Cu(I) was least toxic. Speciation effects were observed; e.g., Cr(III) was less toxic than Cr(VI); Cu(II) was more toxic than Cu(I). Polarography (which is usually not used for multi-element analysis) has been extended to Pb(II) and Cd(II) solution mixtures. Various mixtures were tested to determine if toxicity was predictable from that of individual components, or whether synergistic/antagonistic reactions occur. The resultant EC50 for a 50-50 As(V)/Cd(II) mixture was consistent with additive behavior; Pb(II)/Cd(II) and Pb(II)/Cu(I) mixtures exhibited antagonistic and synergistic interactions, respectively. Sediments soaked with Pb(II) and Cr(III) have been studied to determine the toxicity. For competitive sorption, the EC50 value is twice that for Cr(III) alone, presumably because preferential Cr(III) adsorption occurs, blocking Pb(II) adsorption to kaolin.

KEYWORDS: Microtox(tm), heavy metal mixtures, speciation, polarography

This paper is from the Proceedings of the HSRC/WERC Joint Conference on the Environment, May 1996, published in hard copy and on the Web by the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center.

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