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Effects of turbidity, sediment, and polyacrylamide on native freshwater mussels

May 16, 2018

Turbidity is a ubiquitous pollutant adversely affecting water quality and aquatic life in waterways globally. Anionic polyacrylamide (PAM) is widely used as an effective chemical flocculent to reduce suspended sediment (SS) and turbidity. However, no information exists on the toxicity of PAM‐flocculated sediments to imperiled, but ecologically important, freshwater mussels (Unionidae). Thus, we conducted acute (96 h) and chronic (24 day) laboratory tests with juvenile fatmucket (Lampsilis siliquoidea) and three exposure conditions (nonflocculated settled sediment, SS, and PAM‐flocculated settled sediment) over a range of turbidity levels (50, 250, 1,250, and 3,500 nephelometric turbidity units). Survival and sublethal endpoints of protein oxidation, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, and protein concentration were used as measures of toxicity. We found no effect of turbidity levels or exposure condition on mussel survival in acute or chronic tests. However, we found significant reductions in protein concentration, ATP production, and oxidized proteins in mussels acutely exposed to the SS condition, which required water movement to maintain sediment in suspension, indicating responses that are symptoms of physiological stress. Our results suggest anionic PAM applied to reduce SS may minimize adverse effects of short‐term turbidity exposure on juvenile freshwater mussels without eliciting additional lethal or sublethal toxicity.

Publication Year 2018
Title Effects of turbidity, sediment, and polyacrylamide on native freshwater mussels
DOI 10.1111/1752-1688.12639
Authors Sean B. Buczek, W. Gregory Cope, Richard A. McLaughlin, Thomas J. Kwak
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Index ID 70197089
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta