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    Selenium: A Hazard Assessment and a Water Quality Criterion Calculation

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    An aquatic environmental hazard assessment for inorganic selenium compounds was performed. Studies on environmental exposure concentrations, bioconcentration potential, and acute and chronic toxicity to aquatic organisms were reviewed. An average aqueous environmental exposure concentration of 1.0 μg/litre was calculated, using data from 22 lakes. The geometric means of the maximum acceptable toxicant concentrations (MATCs) for fathead minnows, rainbow trout, Daphnia magna, mysid shrimp, and sheepshead minnows were 0.22, 0.18, 0.13, 0.36, and 0.67 mg/litre, respectively. The safety factors, based on the ratio of the chronic geometric mean of the MATC to the average environmental exposure concentration, were determined to be greater than 130 for all aquatic species tested. The data suggest that existing aqueous environmental levels of selenium present little hazard to aquatic life.

    The aquatic toxicity data base developed in the present study, together with previously reported information, was used to calculate a water quality criterion. The authors estimate that a concentration of 52 μg/litre, if not exceeded, should provide adequate protection for most aquatic species.


    selenium, hazard assessment, water quality criteria, toxicity, bioconcentration, environmental concentrations, fish, water, sediment, aquatic toxicology

    Author Information:

    Adams, WJ
    Senior research biologist, Monsanto Co., St. Louis, Mo.

    Johnson, HE
    Director, Institute of Water Research, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.

    Committee/Subcommittee: D19.05

    DOI: 10.1520/STP34153S