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The toxicity of aqueous hydrogen sulfide on the fish community in Lake Huron was measured on two life stages of three representative species—whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), yellow perch (Perca flavescens), largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)—and on three stages of rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri). The experiments were carried out to simulate existing discharge conditions from a heavy water production plant which uses hydrogen sulfide as an extraction medium.
LC50 tests at various time intervals under selected conditions were completed to evaluate the toxic effects at various parts of a thermal plume discharged into Lake Huron.
The results are discussed in terms of life stages, species, pH changes, and avoidance reactions. These data are also compared with data obtained from reports of experiments on toxicity at dissolved oxygen levels lower than those tested in this study. The sensitivity of the different fish species to unionized hydrogen sulfide varied from 0.002 to 0.063 mg/litre in the 96-h exposures and from 0.046 to 1.719 mg/litre in the 1-h tests. The results demonstrate the sensitivity of all life stages of the experimental organisms and indicate that simulation of the actual environmental conditions under which the organism is exposed to the toxic substance may be important.
aquatic toxicology, short-term toxicity, hydrogen sulfide, fish species, life stages, pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, thermal plume
Environmental studies specialist, Ontario Hydro, Ontario
Project biologist, J. F. MacLaren Limited, Ontario