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    Trace Elements in Molluscs in the Kingston Basin

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    Freshwater molluscs (UNIONACAE) have been sampled extensively in the Kingston Basin area of the Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River system. Soft tissue of the animals were homogenized and freezedried, and then analyzed for specific trace elements.

    An analytical procedure was developed whereby the elements cobalt, chromium, copper, lead, and zinc were determined directly on the freezedried solid material by atomic absorption spectroscopy, using a heated graphite furnace. Prior to analysis, samples were “diluted,” using naphthalene as an inert solid diluent. In the species Lampsilis radiate, cobalt, chromium, copper, lead, and zinc levels of approximately 1.1, 19, 36, 4.7, and 225 ppm (on dry weight), respectively, were found. In addition, samples of seston material were separated from water samples collected in the Kingston Basin, by dialysis and freezedrying, and subsequently also directly analyzed for some of these trace elements. Chromium and copper levels of 41 and 594 ppm (on dry weight) were found.

    Due to the high trace element levels found in the seston material, it is postulated that trace element enrichment in bivalve molluscs takes place by an essentially two-step mechanism, the first being the prior preconcentration (complexing, inclusion, precipitation) of trace elements into the particulate material in the water column, followed by ingestion of this particulate material by the organism. The use of such sedentary particulate feeding organisms, such as fresh water mussels (which are easily collected), is recommended as a suitable method for long-term in situ monitoring of water quality with respect to specific chemical species present in the aquatic environment.


    water quality, trace elements, aquatic animals, mollusca, mussels, environmental tests

    Author Information:

    Lord, DA
    Project biologist, Environment Canada, Halifax, Nova Scotia

    Breck, WG
    Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

    Wheeler, RC
    Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

    Committee/Subcommittee: D19.95

    DOI: 10.1520/STP39002S