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The influence of different water Cl- (50–600 μM), Ca2+ (50–1,500 μM), Na+ (50–1,500 μM), or dissolved organic carbon (DOC, 0.31–5 mg/L) levels on silver-induced physiological and biochemical perturbations of rainbow trout were investigated. Fish were acclimated to soft water (50 μM; Cl-, Ca2+, and Na+), then exposed to 3.7 μg/L Ag (as AgNO3) for 6 h, which resulted in a reduction in Na+ influx from the water, an inhibition of gill sodium- and potassium-activated adenosine triphosphatase (Na+/K+-ATPase) activity, and an accumulation of silver on the gills. Increasing the water Cl- or DOC levels ameliorated the silver toxicity. However, increasing water Ca2+ or Na+ concentration did not reduce the silver-induced physiological and biochemical perturbations. The free silver ion (Ag+) concentrations (calculated from MINEQL+, a geochemical speciation computer program) showed a negative correlation with the Na+ influx rates and gill Na+/K+-ATPase activity. However, gill silver levels did not correlate to Ag+ concentrations and no correlation was found between gill silver levels and either Na+ influx rates or gill Na+/K+-ATPase activity. These results support the notion that the [Ag+] concentration is of major importance when assessing silver toxicity in fish, and that this should be taken into account in regulatory strategies for silver in the natural environment.


This article was originally published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 18(1): 49-55. © 1999 Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry