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Acute toxicity of sodium chloride and potassium chloride to a unionid mussel (Lampsilis siliquoidea) in water exposures

June 19, 2018

Freshwater mussels (order Unionoida) are one of the most imperiled groups of animals in the world. However, many ambient water quality criteria and other environmental guideline values do not include data for freshwater mussels, in part because mussel toxicity test methods are comparatively new and data may not have been available when criteria and guidelines were derived. The objectives of the present study were to evaluate the acute toxicity of sodium chloride (NaCl) and potassium chloride (KCl) to larvae (glochidia) and/or juveniles of a unionid mussel (fatmucket, Lampsilis siliquoidea) and to determine the potential influences of water hardness (50, 100, 200, and 300 mg/L as CaCO3) and other major ions (Ca, K, SO4, or HCO3) on the acute toxicity of NaCl to the mussels. From the KCl test, the 50% effect concentration (EC50) for fatmucket glochidia was 30 mg K/L, similar to or slightly lower than the EC50s for juvenile fatmucket (37–46 mg K/L) tested previously in our laboratory. From the NaCl tests, the EC50s for glochidia increased from 441 to 1597 mg Cl/L and the EC50s for juvenile mussels increased from 911 to 3092 mg Cl/L with increasing water hardness from 50 to 300 mg/L. Increasing K from 0.4 to 1.9 mg/L, SO4 from 13 to 40 mg/L, or HCO3 from 44 to 200 mg/L in the 50 mg/L hardness water did not substantially change the NaCl EC50s for juvenile mussels, whereas increasing Ca from 9.9 to 42 mg/L increased the EC50s by a factor of 2. The overall results indicate that glochidia were equally or more sensitive to NaCl and KCl compared with juvenile mussels and that the increased water hardness ameliorated the acute toxicity of NaCl to glochidia and juveniles. These responses rank fatmucket among the most acutely sensitive freshwater organisms to NaCl and KCl.