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Persistence, bioaccumulation and ecological relevance of metals in the environment

: Klein, W.

ICME Newsletter 5 (1997), Nr.3, S.1-2
Fraunhofer IUCT ( IME) ()
bioaccumulation; environmental risk assessment; exposure; metal; pathway; persistence

For the purposes of risk assessment in aquatic environments, pathways, transport, persistence and bioaccumulation are the key determinants of exposure. Since metals are elements and since all non-radioactive elements, by definition, are persistent, the criterion of persistence is not a useful descriptor for metals. From a risk assessment perspective, it is the chemical form or "species" of a metal that is important. Indeed, only when metals are in a free cationic state, or part of a hydroxyl complex or organometallic compound, are they potentially available for uptake by organisms, and only then do they have the potential to bioaccumulate and to cause biological effects. For organometallics, the criteria of biodegradation and bioaccumulation can be applied as for organic chemicals.