Assessment of Individual and Combined Toxicities of Four Non-Essential Metals (As, Cd, Hg and Pb) in the Microtox Assay


Although most researches with non-essential metals (NEMs) have been done with single or individual metals, in reality, organisms are often exposed to multiple contaminants at the same time through the air, food and water. In this study, we tested the toxicity of four NEMs, As, Cd, Pb, and Hg, individually and as a composite mixture using the microtox bioassay. This assay uses the reduction of bioluminescence of the bacterium Vibrio fischeri as a measure of toxicity. The concentrations of each chemical in the mixture were based on multiples of their maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) set by the U.S. EPA. The highest concentration of exposure was 20 times the MCL, which translated into 200, 100, 40 and 300 ppb for As, Cd, Hg and Pb, respectively. The ratio for the mixture from these concentrations was 10:5:2:15 for As, Cd, Hg and Pb, respectively. Among the individual metals tested, the ranking of toxicity was Hg>Pb>Cd>As based on the EC50 values of 109, 455, 508 and 768 ppb for Hg, Pb, Cd and As, respectively. The EC50 for the composite mixture was 495% MCL which translated into nominal concentrations of 49, 25, 10 and 74 ppb for As, Cd, Hg, and Pb, respectively. Overall, the EC50 value of each NEM within the mixture was lower than the EC50 of the individual chemical; an evidence of synergism for the mixture. The individual toxic units (TU) were 0.06, 0.05, 0.09, and 0.16 for As, Cd Hg, and Pb, respectively and the summed toxic unit (TU) was 0.37 (less than 1). This study provides needed scientific data necessary for carrying out complete risk assessment of As, Cd, Hg, and Pb mixtures of some priority compounds.

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@inproceedings{Ishaque2006AssessmentOI, title={Assessment of Individual and Combined Toxicities of Four Non-Essential Metals (As, Cd, Hg and Pb) in the Microtox Assay}, author={Ali Baba Ishaque and Linda R. Johnson and Tonya M. Gerald and Dwayne Boucaud and Joseph M. Okoh and Paul Bernard Tchounwou}, booktitle={International journal of environmental research and public health}, year={2006} }