Prescribing sea water quality criteria for arsenic, cadmium and lead through species sensitivity distribution
Water quality standards are essential for regulation of contaminants in marine environment. Seawater quality criteria (SWQC) for arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) have not been developed for India. The aim of this study is to derive the SWQC for the metals based on Species Sensitivity Distribution (SSD). Eight species of sensitive marine organisms belonging to five phyla were assessed for their sensitivity to toxicity of As, Cd and Pb. Median effective concentrations (EC50) and Median Lethal Concentrations (LC50) were derived from the acute toxicity bio-assays. No Observed Effect Concentrations (NOEC), Lowest Observed Effect Concentrations (LOEC) and chronic values were derived from chronic toxicity bio-assays. Diatoms were more sensitive to As with 96 h EC50 of 0.1 mg/l and copepods were more sensitive to Cd and Pb with 96 h EC50 of 0.019 mg/l and 0.05 mg/l respectively. Estimated NOECs ranged from 4.87 to 21.55 µg/l of As, 1.0 to 120 µg/l of Cd and 5.67 to 91.67 µg/l of Pb. Similarly, chronic values (µg/l) were in the range of 6.71–26.1, 1.38–170, and 7.67–91.67 of As, Cd and Pb respectively. The Criterion Maximum Concentration (CMC), Criterion Continuous Concentration (CCC) and Predicted No Effect Concentration (PNEC) values were prescribed as SWQC. The CMC (µg/l) of 19, 1.7 and 17 for As, Cd, and Pb were derived respectively for acute exposure during accidental marine outfalls. The CCC (µg/l) for As was 4.6, 1.1 for Cd and 5.9 for Pb are recommended as SWQC for protection of 95% of marine organisms. PNEC (µg/l) of 3.8 for As, 0.92 for Cd and 4.3 for Pb are suggested for highly disturbed ecosystems, shell fishing and mariculture uses of water bodies. These values are recommended as a baseline for site specific water quality criteria for the coastal waters of the country.