Bioavailability and toxicity of metals from a contaminated sediment by acid mine drainage: linking exposure-response relationships of the freshwater bivalve Corbicula fluminea to contaminated sediment.
Streams and rivers strongly affected by acid mine drainage (AMD) have legal vacuum in terms of assessing the water toxicity, since the use of conventional environmental quality biomarkers is not possible due to the absence of macroinvertebrate organisms. The Asian clam Corbicula fluminea has been widely used as a biomonitor of metal contamination by AMD in freshwater systems. However, these clams are considered an invasive species in Spain and the transplantation in the field study is not allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency. To evaluate the use of the freshwater bivalve C. fluminea as a potential biomonitor for sediments contaminated by AMD, the metal bioavailability and toxicity were investigated in laboratory by exposure of clams to polluted sediments for 14 days. The studied sediments were classified as slightly contaminated with As, Cr, and Ni; moderately contaminated with Co; considerably contaminated with Pb; and heavily contaminated with Cd, Zn, and specially Cu, being reported as very toxic to Microtox. On the fourth day of the exposure, the clams exhibited an increase in concentration of Ga, Ba, Sb, and Bi (more than 100%), followed by Co, Ni, and Pb (more than 60%). After the fourth day, a decrease in concentration was observed for almost all metals studied except Ni. An allometric function was used to determine the relationship between the increases in metal concentration in soft tissue and the increasing bioavailable metal concentrations in sediments.