• Freshwater mussels;
  • Municipal wastewater;
  • Biomarkers;
  • Semipermeable membrane devices;
  • polar organic contaminants integrated samplers


To examine effects of municipal wastewater effluent (MWWE) on sentinel organisms, the authors deployed caged freshwater mussels (Lasmigona costata) in the Grand River (ON, Canada) upstream and downstream of an MWWE outfall. Passive sampling devices were deployed alongside caged mussels to confirm exposure. Biomarkers of xenobiotic biotransformation, oxidative stress, estrogenicity, and immunomodulation were investigated. Elevated concentrations of selected pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) and a natural estrogen (estrone) were found at the downstream sites. Mussels caged downstream of the effluent for 2 wk showed minimal evidence of exposure, while those deployed for 4 wk exhibited significantly higher levels of lipid peroxidation (LPO) and glutathione S-transferase (GST) activity, demonstrating that MWWE-exposed mussels exhibit increased activity in xenobiotic conjugation and oxidative stress. With respect to immune responses, a significant increase in plasma lysozyme activity and hemocyte viability was observed in MWWE-exposed mussels. Vitellogenin (vtg)-like protein in male mussels showed a trend toward induction after 4 wk of deployment at the first downstream site, but mean levels were not significantly different. Discriminant function analysis indicated that mussels deployed for 4 wk upstream and downstream of the MWWE discharge could be discriminated on the basis of LPO, GST, plasma lysozyme, and vtg responses. The physiological stress observed in caged mussels indicates that wild mussels chronically exposed to MWWE in this ecosystem would also be negatively impacted. Environ Toxicol Chem 2014;33:134–143. © 2013 SETAC