Relative acute toxicity of acid mine drainage water column and sediments to Daphnia magna in the Puckett's Creek watershed, Virginia, USA

David John Riecks-Soucek, D. S. Cherry, G. C. Trent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Acid mine drainage (AMD) is produced when pyrite (FeS2) is oxidized on exposure to oxygen and water to form ferric hydroxides and sulfuric acid. If produced in sufficient quantity, iron precipitate, heavy metals (depending on soil mineralogy), and sulfuric acid may contaminate surface and ground water. A previous study of an AMD impacted watershed (Puckett's Creek, Powell River drainage, southwestern Virginia, USA) conducted by these researchers indicated that both water column and sediment toxicity were significantly correlated with benthic macroinvertebrate community impacts. Sites that had toxic water or sediment samples had significantly reduced macroinvertebrate taxon richness. The present study was designed to investigate the relative acute toxicity of acid mine drainage (AMD) water column and sediments to a single test organism (Daphnia magna) and to determine which abiotic factors were the best indicators of toxicity in this system. Nine sampling stations were selected based on proximity to major AMD inputs in the watershed. In 48- h exposures, sediment samples from three stations were acutely toxic to D. magna, causing 64-100% mortality, whereas water samples from five stations caused 100% mortality of test organisms. Forty-eight-hour LC50 values ranged from 35 to 63% for sediment samples and 27 to 69% for water column samples. Sediment iron concentration and several water chemistry parameters were the best predictors of sediment toxicity, and water column pH was the best predictor of water toxicity. Based on these correlations and on the fact that toxic sediments had high percent water content, water chemistry appears to be a more important adverse influence in this system than sediment chemistry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-310
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology

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