Toxicity of ammonia, cadmium, and nitrobenzene to four local fishes in the Liao River, China and the derivation of site-specific water quality criteria
Abstract Water quality criteria (WQC) are considered to be an effective management tool for protecting aquatic environments. To derive site-specific WQC for an area, local data based on local species are essential to improve the applicability of WQC derived. Due to the paucity of local fish data available for the development of site-specific WQC for the Liao River, China, four local and widespread fishes ( Pseudorasbora parva ， Abbottina liaoningensis , Ctenogobius giurinus , and Misgurnus anguillicaudatus ) were chosen to test their sensitivities to ammonia, cadmium and nitrobenzene. These compounds are common and regularly-measured pollutants in Chinese rivers. In addition to the published data for species resident in the Liao River, site-specific WQC for the three chemicals were derived using both a log-logistic species sensitivity distribution (SSD) and the method recommended by the USEPA, in line with current best practice, which were then compared with Chinese national WQC. It was found that A. liaoningensis was the most sensitive, followed, in order, by P. parva , C. giurinus and M. anguillicaudatus was the least sensitive, and this trend was the same to all three chemicals tested. When comparing the SSD derived solely from previously-published data with that including our data on local fish, there were significant differences identified among parameters describing the SSD curves for ammonia and nitrobenzene and significant differences were detected for site-specific WQC derived for all of the three chemicals. Based on the dataset with local fish data taxa, site-specific WQC of Liao River for ammonia, cadmium, and nitrobenzene were derived to be 20.53mg/L (at a pH of 7.0 and temperature of 20°C), 3.76μg/L (at a hardness of 100mg/L CaCO 3 ), and 0.49mg/L, respectively. Using the same deriving method for each chemical, the national Chinese WQC were higher than site-specific WQC derived in this study for ammonia (national WQC of 25.16mg/L) and nitrobenzene (national WQC of 0.57mg/L), while the national WQC for cadmium was lower (national WQC of 1.81μg/L). These results indicated that published data can be helpful for use when deriving site-specific WQC but that there were differences between site-specific and national WQC which may lead to either over- or under-protection depending on the pollutant if national WQC were used as the basis for the water management of specific river systems, like the Liao River. Highlights Acute ammonia, cadmium, and nitrobenzene toxicities were detected in 4 local fishes to Liao River, China. Site-specific Water Quality Criteria (WQC) of ammonia, cadmium, and nitrobenzene were derived for Liao River. The employment of national WQC which may lead to either over- or under-protection in the water management of Liao River.
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