• Mussels;
  • Copper;
  • Water quality;
  • Toxicity


The state of Oklahoma has designated several areas as freshwater mussel sanctuaries in an attempt to provide freshwater mussel species a degree of protection and to facilitate their reproduction. We evaluated the protection afforded freshwater mussels by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) hardness-based 1996 ambient copper water quality criteria, the 2007 U.S. EPA water quality criteria based on the biotic ligand model and the 2005 state of Oklahoma copper water quality standards. Both the criterion maximum concentration and criterion continuous concentration were evaluated. Published acute and chronic copper toxicity data that met American Society for Testing and Materials guidance for test acceptability were obtained for exposures conducted with glochidia or juvenile freshwater mussels. We tabulated toxicity data for glochidia and juveniles to calculate 20 species mean acute values for freshwater mussels. Generally, freshwater mussel species mean acute values were similar to those of the more sensitive species included in the U.S. EPA water quality derivation database. When added to the database of genus mean acute values used in deriving 1996 copper water quality criteria, 14 freshwater mussel genus mean acute values included 10 of the lowest 15 genus mean acute values, with three mussel species having the lowest values. Chronic exposure and sublethal effects freshwater mussel data available for four species and acute to chronic ratios were used to evaluate the criterion continuous concentration. On the basis of the freshwater mussel toxicity data used in this assessment, the hardness-based 1996 U.S. EPA water quality criteria, the 2005 Oklahoma water quality standards, and the 2007 U.S. EPA water quality criteria based on the biotic ligand model might need to be revised to afford protection to freshwater mussels.