Assessing the Relative Toxicity of Different Road Salts and Effect of Temperature on Salinity Toxicity: LCx Values vs. No Effect Concentration (NEC) Values
Freshwater biota are at risk globally from increasing salinity, including increases from deicing salts in cold regions. A variety of metrics of toxicity are used when estimating the toxicity of substances and comparing the toxicity between substances. However, the implications of using different metrics is not widely appreciated. Using the mayfly Colobruscoides giganteus (Ephemeroptera: Colobruscoidea) we compare the toxicity of seven different salts where toxicity was estimated using two
... ted using two metrics 1) the no effect concentrations (NEC) and 2) the lethal concentrations for 10, 25 and 50% of the test populations (LCx). The LCx values were estimated using two different models, the classic log-logistic model and the newer toxicokinetic-toxicodynamic (TKTD) model. We also compare the toxicity of two salts (NaCl and CaCl2) for C. giganteus at water temperatures of 4°C, 7°C and 15°C using the same metrics of toxicity. Our motivation for using a mayfly to assess salinity toxicity was because mayflies are generally salt sensitive, are ecologically important and are common in Australian (sub-)alpine streams. Considering 144-hour LCx values, we found toxicity differed between various salts, i.e., the lowest 144-hour LC50 (8 mS/cm) for a salt used by a ski resort was half that of the highest 144-hour LC50 from artificial marine salts and CaCl2 applied to roads (16mS/cm). 144-hour LC50 results at 7°C showed that analytical grade NaCl was significantly more toxic (7.3mS/cm) compared to analytical grade CaCl2 (12.5mS/cm). Yet for NEC values, there were comparably fewer differences in toxicity between salts and none between the same salts at different temperatures. We conclude that LCx values are better suited to compare difference in toxicity between substances or between the same substance at different test temperatures, while NEC values are better suited to estimating concentrations of substances that have no effect to the test species and endpoint measured under laboratory conditions.