Assessment of metal toxicity in sediment pore water from Lake Macquarie, Australia

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Journal Article
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 2003, 44 (3), pp. 343 - 350
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Recent investigations into the level of heavy metal enrichment in the sediments of Lake Macquarie have indicated that significant contamination has occurred over the past 100 years, with elevated levels of lead, zinc, cadmium, copper, and selenium being observed in most parts of the lake. Pore water extracted from sediments showing the greatest contamination by these metals exhibited toxicity to the larval development of the sea urchin Heliocidaris tuberculata. However, an analysis of pore water metal concentrations revealed that the concentrations of these metals were too low to cause toxicity. Rather, pore water toxicity was highly correlated with manganese for the majority of sites sampled; subsequent spiking experiments confirmed manganese as a cause of toxicity. Current levels of manganese in the sediments of Lake Macquarie have arisen from natural sources and are not the result of anthropogenic activities. These results reiterate the importance of identifying the causes of toxicity in assessments of sediment contamination, particularly when testing sediment pore waters using sensitive early life stages.
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