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Environmental fate & pathways

Bioaccumulation: aquatic / sediment

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Description of key information

BCF (calculated using all available data) =  1613 ±  8411 (n = 52)
BCF (calculated with exception of outlier data) = 157 ± 135 (n = 49)
BCF (calculated over a limited range of exposure concentrations, 5-50 µg/L) = 106 ± 53 (n = 27)

Key value for chemical safety assessment

Additional information

An example for the uptake of nickel in fish is given in the key study record, which described the uptake in different organs of Cyprinus carpio at lethal and sublethal concentrations. The values were part of a general examination of the BCF for Nickel, given by McGeer et al. (2003).

McGeer et al. had reviewed literature data to evaluate the relationship between chronic exposure and metal accumulation in aquatic biota including different species of algae, insects, arthropods, gastropods, mussels and fish. They analyzed the data and calculated the mean BCF with standard deviation (SD) using all available data, generating a BCF of 1613 ± 8411 for nickel. To illustrate the effect of outliers, the mean BCF was also recalculated after removal of extremely high or low data points (greater or less than 3 SD from the mean as well as by visual assessment) resulting in a BCF of 157 ± 135. The mean BCF was calculated over a narrow exposure range to bracket the chronic water-quality guidelines and criteria (just below and above the water quality guideline value) and to encompass concentrations where chronic toxicity might be expected to occur. This range included only data of an exposure concentration of 5 - 50 µg/L yielding a BCF of 106 ± 53.

In general the data showed an overall trend of increased body concentrations as exposure concentrations increased. Both overall and within each of the individual species groups (algae, insects, arthropods, gastropods, mussels and fish), there was a significant slope associated with the accumulation versus exposure relationship. These slopes were less than unity and therefore BCF was inversely correlated with exposure. The negative relationship between Ni BCF and Ni exposure concentration was significant in all cases and therefore the BCF cannot be considered as an inherent property of Ni.

Furthermore the authors stated, that there was no evidence from literature data that Nickel biomagnifies in aquatic food webs.

McGeer J.C. et al. (2003). Inverse relationship between bioconcentration factor and exposure concentration for metals: Implications for hazard assessment of metals in the aquatic environment. Environmetal Toxicology and Chemistry 22(5): 1017 -1037.