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Ecotoxicological information

Toxicity to other aquatic organisms

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Description of key information

Freshwater: Extensive field data showed that standards for dissolved zinc in freshwater should be in the range 20-27 µg Zn/l (Crane et al. 2007).
Saltwater: Field studies on phytoplancton assemblages dominated by diatoms and dinoflagellates have shown that the lowest observed effect levels are in the range 10-15 µg/L according to an experiment conducted in the English Channel (Davies and Sleep, 1979) and up to >100 µg/L according to another experiment conducted in Kiel Fjord and in the Baltic Sea (Wolter et al. 1984).

Additional information

PNECs for dissolved metals are primarily based on single species data determined in the laboratory. It is important to check their capacity for protecting the environment through field data, making the relationship between measured metal levels and observed ecosystem effects in the field.

freshwater:

Freshwater benthic macroinvertebrates are a group of organisms of known sensitivity to metals.

An extensive dataset on zinc concentrations in UK waters was compared with associated benthic invertebrate community metrics. This large scale study revealed that the freshwater standard for zinc (dissolved) should be in the range 20 -27 µg/l ; it was concluded that the ecotoxicity data (NOECs) were showing the same lower range of sensitivity, and that application of additional safety factors on the ecotoxicity information was overly-conservative, and not reflecting ecological reality.

Marine water:

The available field data relate to algal communities, which are known to be among the most sensitive organisms to zinc in the aquatic environment. The lowest observed effects levels on phytoplancton assemblages are in the range 10 -15 µg/L and EC10 levels from the dose-response curves in the range 7 -13 µg/L according to an experiment conducted in the English Channel (see Davies and Sleep, 1979) and up to >100 µg/L according to another experiment conducted in Kiel Fjord and in the Baltic Sea (see Wolter et al. 1984).