Effects of continuous copper exposure and calcium on the olfactory response of fathead minnows

William A. Dew, Chris M. Wood, Greg G. Pyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The current gill-based Biotic Ligand Model (gbBLM) is an acute-toxicity model used to predict site-specific safe copper (Cu) concentrations. Recent effort to develop a chronic BLM has focused on the olfactory epithelium. To further this effort, the current study looked at the effect of varying Cu concentration and exposure duration on Cu-induced olfactory dysfunction, and whether calcium (Ca) protected against Cu-induced impairment as it does at the gill. Fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) were treated with five Cu concentrations for varying exposure durations in hard and soft water. A neurophysiological technique, electro-olfactography (EOG), was employed to determine the level of olfactory dysfunction. At the low, ecologically relevant Cu concentrations tested there was significant inhibition of EOG function; however, over time there was at least a partial recovery of olfactory function, despite the continuous Cu exposure. Calcium did not appear to protect against Cu-induced olfactory dysfunction; and even alone, Ca appeared to interfere with the olfactory response to the amino acid l-arginine. Safe copper concentrations as predicted by the gbBLM, chemosensory-based BLMs, the USEPA BLM, and hardness-adjustment equations based on the exposure waters were not entirely protective against olfactory dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9019-9026
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 21 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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