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We investigated the applicability of three task-specific ionic liquids (ILs) as heavy metal extracting agents by contrasting extraction capabilities with algal toxicity. The compounds tested were trihexyltetradecylphosphonium-, methyltrioctylphosphonium- and methyltrioctylammonium 3-hydroxy-2-naphthoates. Experiments were performed to assess if these ILs can provide environmentally safe residual concentrations of the target metals after extraction. Both pure water and natural mineral water<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="https://doi.org/10.3390/app10093157">doi:10.3390/app10093157</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="https://fatcat.wiki/release/3xwjdmsytbg33kowj7iewcecti">fatcat:3xwjdmsytbg33kowj7iewcecti</a> </span>
more »... es were spiked with 20 µg L−1 of Cu, Ag, Cd, Hg and Pb, respectively. Quantitative extraction (>99%) of Hg and Ag was achieved. Cu and Hg were below the respective no-observed-effect-concentrations (NOECs) after extraction and Ag below 0.03 µg L−1. Acute toxicity assays were conducted using two freshwater green algae Raphidocelis subcapitata and Tetradesmus obliquus. Growth inhibition and maximum photochemical quantum yield of photosystem II after 72 h were assessed. ILs were less toxic than similar compounds, but still must be classified as acute toxicants for algae. An inhibiting effect on both growth and chlorophyll fluorescence was observed. The leaching of the ILs into the samples remains a limitation regarding their environmental-friendly applicability. Nonetheless, the extremely efficient removal of Cu, Ag and Hg under environmentally relevant conditions calls for further research, which should focus on the immobilization of the ILs.
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