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Assessment of metal contamination, bioavailability, toxicity and bioaccumulation in extreme metallic environments (Iberian Pyrite Belt) using Corbicula fluminea

Bonnail, E., Sarmiento, A.M., DelValls, T.A., Nieto, J.M., Riba, I.
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.544 pp. 1031-1044
Corbicula fluminea, acid mine drainage, arsenic, bioaccumulation, bioassays, bioavailability, cadmium, clams, copper, environmental monitoring, freshwater, indicator species, lead, mining, mortality, pyrite, risk, rivers, sediments, sulfates, toxicity, water quality, zinc, Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Pyrite Belt (SW Iberian Peninsula) has intense mining activity. Currently, its fluvial networks receive extremely acid lixiviate residue discharges that are rich in sulphates and metals in solution (acid mine drainage, AMD) from abandoned mines. In the current study, the sediment and water quality were analysed in three different areas of the Odiel River to assess the risk associated with the metal content and its speciation and bioavailability. Furthermore, sediment contact bioassays were performed using the freshwater clam Corbicula fluminea to determine its adequacy as a biomonitoring tool in relation to theoretical risk indexes and regulatory thresholds. Reburial activity and mortality were used as the toxic responses of clams when exposed to contaminated sediment.The results showed coherence between the water and sediment chemical contamination for most of the metals. The reburial activity was correlated with the metal toxicity, but no clam mortality was registered. The bioaccumulation of the studied metals in the clam did not have a significant correlation with the bioavailable fraction of the metal content in the environment, which could be related to a potential different speciation in this singular environment. The bioaccumulation responses were negative for As, Cd and Zn in highly contaminated environments and were characterized as severe, considerable and low potential environmental risks, respectively. The results show that C. fluminea is a good biomonitor of Cu and Pb.