The concept of persistence as applied to metals for aquatic hazard identification.
The criteria persistence (P), bioaccumulation (B), and toxicity (T) are applied by domestic and international regulators and modelers to the hazard identification of chemical substances, including metals and metalloids, that may present harm to the environment. In this paper, we critically examine the literature to determine the weight of evidence for the application of water column partition half-times as a surrogate for the persistence criterion in the aquatic hazard identification of metals and metal compounds. Dissolved metals such as Fe, Mn, Cu, Pb, Co, Cs, Hg, and Zn, as well as the metalloids As and Se, tend to partition from the water column by adsorption onto sinking particulates, with reported and calculated partition half-times in the range 4 to 30 d, with outliers of 0.07 and 280 d. Within freshwater lakes, values of t1/2 for the transition metals Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, and Cu averaged about 10 d, while those for the nontransition metals Sr, Zn, Cs, and Hg and the metalloids As and Se varied up to 55 d. These data are consistent with the well-established complexing properties of the transition metals, which are significantly greater compared to the nontransition metals and the metalloids. While the considerable variations in the literature at present preclude the use of metal partition half-times in aquatic hazard identification, the surrogate for the persistence criterion could be the partition half-time of the bioavailable fraction of the total dissolved metal concentration as determined in a laboratory protocol under standardized conditions.
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