Species sensitivity distribution evaluation for chronic nickel toxicity to marine organisms


To whom correspondence may be addressed: CSchlekat@nipera.org


In Europe, the European Union's Existing Substances Regulation (EEC 793/93), the REACH Regulation, and Water Framework Directive all share common guidance for conducting environmental effects assessments, which can be further used to derive predicted no effect concentrations (PNECs) and environmental quality standards (EQS) for chemical substances. To meet the criteria for using a species sensitivity distribution (SSD) in the effects assessment of Ni for marine organisms, chronic toxicity data from the published scientific literature were augmented with toxicity testing of several additional marine species including: a unicellular alga (Dunalliela tertiolecta), a diatom (Skeletonema costatum), 2 macroalgae (Champia parvula, Macrocystis pyrifera), 2 mollusks (Crassostrea gigas, Mytilus galloprovincialis), 2 echinoderms (Dendraster excentricus, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus), a polychaete (Neanthes arenaceodentata), and a fish (Cyprinodon variegatus). Based on this updated database, which includes chronic Ni toxicity data for a total of 17 marine species, HC5 values (hazardous concentrations to 5% of the species) were derived using an SSD. The most sensitive species is a tropical sea urchin from the Caribbean region, Diadema antillarum, which has an EC10 that is approximately 6-fold less than the EC10 for the second most sensitive species tested. There is some uncertainty in the representativeness of D. antillarum to temperate European marine waters because 1) a European sea urchin species (Paracentrotus lividus) is approximately 48-fold less sensitive to Ni, and (2) ambient marine Ni concentrations in at least some European waters closely approach the D. antillarum EC10. The HC5 values with and without D. antillarum included in the SSD are 3.9 and 20.9 μg/L, respectively. Site-specific toxicity testing with local species may be warranted for locations where Ni concentrations fall between the range in HC5s of 3.9 to 20.9 μg/L. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2013;9:580–589. © 2013 SETAC