Predicted effects of toxicant mixtures are confirmed by changes in fish species assemblages in Ohio, USA, rivers

Authors

  • Leo Posthuma,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Laboratory for Ecological Risk Assessment, P.O. Box 1, NL-3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
    • National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Laboratory for Ecological Risk Assessment, P.O. Box 1, NL-3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
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  • Dick de Zwart

    1. National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Laboratory for Ecological Risk Assessment, P.O. Box 1, NL-3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands
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Abstract

The purposes of this study were to investigate whether exposure to toxicant mixtures is associated with fish assemblage characteristics in the field and to describe the relationships between predicted chronic and acute mixture risks and observed impacts. Fish abundance and abiotic monitoring data from Ohio, USA, surface waters were compiled and analyzed. Variability of biotic and abiotic parameters was large. Exposure assessment, risk assessment with species-sensitivity distributions, and mixture toxicity rules were used to calculate a relative risk predictor: The multisubstance potentially affected fraction of species (msPAF). Predicted acute and chronic risks ranged from low values to more than 10 and 50% of species potentially affected, respectively. Pearson correlations between predicted risk and observed assemblage characteristics were nonsignificant for total abundance, number of species, Shannon-Weaver index, and evenness. Moderately significant correlations were found between predicted risk and abundance for 23% of individual species. Both abundance increases and decreases were observed. Generalized linear model (GLM) regressions revealed significant nonlinear associations between predicted risk and the abundance for 50% (metals and ammonia) and 55% (household product ingredients) of the species. Local ecological impact was expressed as the fraction of species expected but not observed, both with and without attribution of impact to mixture exposure. The association between predicted impacted fraction and the fraction of species expected but not observed was not significant. Predicted acute and chronic impacted fractions were associated significantly with the observed fraction of species likely lost by the action of toxicant mixtures under field conditions, with wide confidence bounds. These findings confirm the view that higher mixture impacts are expected in the field at higher msPAF.

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