Utility of tissue residues for predicting effects of metals onaquatic organisms

William J. Adams, Ronny Blust, Uwe Borgmann, Kevin V. Brix, David K. DeForest, Andrew S. Green, Joseph S. Meyer, James C. McGeer, Paul R. Paquin, Philip S. Rainbow, Chris M. Woody

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


As part of a SETAC PellstonWorkshop, we evaluated the potential use of metal tissue residues for predicting effects in aquatic organisms. This evaluation included consideration of different conceptual models and then development of several case studies on how tissue residues might be applied for metals, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of these different approaches.We further developed a new conceptual model in which metal tissue concentrations from metal-accumulating organisms (principally invertebrates) that are relatively insensitive to metal toxicity could be used as predictors of effects in metal-sensitive taxa that typically do not accumulate metals to a significant degree. Overall, we conclude that the use of tissue residue assessment for metals other than organometals has not led to the development of a generalized approach as in the case of organic substances. Species-specific and site-specific approaches have been developed for one or more metals (e.g., Ni). The use of gill tissue residues within the biotic ligand model is another successful application. Aquatic organisms contain a diverse array of homeostatic mechanisms that are both metal- and species-specific. As a result, use of whole-body measurements (and often specific organs) for metals does not lead to a defensible position regarding risk to the organism. Rather, we suggest that in the short term, with sufficient validation, species- and site-specific approaches for metals can be developed. In the longer term it may be possible to use metal-accumulating species to predict toxicity to metal-sensitive species with appropriate field validation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-98
Number of pages24
JournalIntegrated Environmental Assessment and Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Cadmium
  • Metals
  • Nickel
  • Selenium
  • Tissue residue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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