Effects of exposure to high concentrations of waterborne Tl on K and Tl concentrations in Chironomus riparius larvae
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Thallium (Tl) is a non-essential metal which is released into the environment primarily as the result of anthropogenic activities such as fossil fuel burning and smelting of ores. The ionic radius of monovalent Tl⁺ is similar to that of K⁺ and Tl⁺ may thus interfere with K⁺-dependent processes. We determined that the acute (48 h) lethal concentration where 50% of the organisms do not survive (LC₅₀) of Tl for 4th instar Chironomus riparius larvae was 723 μmol L⁻¹. Accumulation of Tl by the whole animal was saturable, with a maximum accumulation (Jmax) of 4637 μmol kg⁻¹ wet mass, and K(D) of 670 μmol Tl l⁻¹. Tl accumulation by the gut appeared saturable at the lowest four Tl concentrations, with a Jmax of 2560 μmol kg⁻¹ wet mass and a K(D) of 54.5 μmol Tl l⁻¹. The saturable accumulation at the gut may be indicative of a limited capacity for intracellular detoxification, such as storage in lysosomes or complexation with metal-binding proteins. Tl accumulation by the hemolymph was found to be linear and Tl concentrations in the hemolymph were ~75% of the exposure concentration at Tl exposures >26.9 μmol L⁻¹. There was not a significant decrease in whole animal, gut or hemolymph K during exposure to waterborne Tl at any of the concentrations tested (up to 1500 μmol L⁻¹). The avoidance of hypokalemia by C. riparius larvae may contribute to survival during acute waterborne exposures to Tl.
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