Get access

Influence of pH on the acute toxicity of ammonia to juvenile freshwater mussels (fatmucket, Lampsilis siliquoidea)


  • Published on the Web 12/19/2007.


The objective of the present study was to evaluate the influence of pH on the toxicity of ammonia to juvenile freshwater mussels. Acute 96-h ammonia toxicity tests were conducted with 10-d-old juvenile mussels (fatmucket, Lampsilis siliquoidea) at five pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 9.0 in flow-through diluter systems at 20°C. Acute 48-h tests with amphipods (Hyalella azteca) and 96-h tests with oligochaetes (Lumbriculus variegatus) were conducted concurrently under the same test conditions to determine the sensitivity of mussels relative to these two commonly tested benthic invertebrate species. During the exposure, pH levels were maintained within 0.1 of a pH unit and ammonia concentrations were relatively constant through time (coefficient of variation for ammonia concentrations ranged from 2 to 30% with a median value of 7.9%). The median effective concentrations (EC50s) of total ammonia nitrogen (N) for mussels were at least two to six times lower than the EC50s for amphipods and oligochaetes, and the EC50s for mussels decreased with increasing pH and ranged from 88 mg N/L at pH 6.6 to 0.96 mg N/L at pH 9.0. The EC50s for mussels were at or below the final acute values used to derive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's acute water quality criterion (WQC). However, the quantitative relationship between pH and ammonia toxicity to juvenile mussels was similar to the average relationship for other taxa reported in the WQC. These results indicate that including mussel toxicity data in a revision to the WQC would lower the acute criterion but not change the WQC mathematical representation of the relative effect of pH on ammonia toxicity.

Get access to the full text of this article