Assessing the Legacy of Red Mud Pollution in a Shallow Freshwater Lake: Arsenic Accumulation and Speciation in Macrophytes

Justyna P Olszewska, Andrew A Meharg, Katherine V. Heal, Manus Carey, Iain D. M. Gunn, Kate R. Searle, Ian J. Winfield, Bryan M. Spears

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26 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Little is known about long-term ecological responses in lakes following red mud pollution. Among red mud contaminants, arsenic (As) is of considerable concern. Determination of the species of As accumulated in aquatic organisms provides important information about the biogeochemical cycling of the element and transfer through the aquatic food-web to higher organisms. We used coupled ion chromatography and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to assess As speciation in tissues of five macrophyte taxa in Kinghorn Loch, UK, 30 years following the diversion of red mud pollution from the lake. Toxic inorganic As was the dominant species in the studied macrophytes, with As species concentrations varying with macrophyte taxon and tissue type. The highest As content measured in roots of Persicaria amphibia (L.) Gray (87.2 mg kg-1) greatly exceeded the 3 - 10 mg kg-1 range suggested as a potential phytotoxic level. Accumulation of toxic As species by plants suggested toxicological risk to higher organisms known to utilise macrophytes as a food source.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9044–9052
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Volume50
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2016

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