Mining waste as a cause of increased bioaccumulation of highly toxic metals in liver and gills of Vardar chub (Squalius vardarensis Karaman, 1928).


Ruđer Bošković Institute, Division for Marine and Environmental Research, Laboratory for Biological Effects of Metals, P.O. Box 180, 10002, Zagreb, Croatia. Electronic address: [Email]


Freshwater contamination with mining waste can result with high concentrations of toxic metals in the water and in fish organs. In North-Eastern Macedonia, several rivers (e.g., Zletovska, Kriva) are exposed to acid mine drainage from active Pb/Zn mines. Previous studies confirmed high concentrations of dissolved metals in their water. This study was performed in liver and gills of Vardar chub (Squalius vardarensis Karaman, 1928) from three Macedonian rivers (Bregalnica, Kriva and Zletovska) in spring and autumn 2012. The aim was to establish if increased exposure to certain metals have resulted with their increased bioaccumulation. The concentrations of 19 elements were measured in cytosolic tissue fractions, to obtain information on metabolically available metal species. The following ranges of cytosolic concentrations of highly toxic elements were measured in the Vardar chub liver (in μg/L): Cd, 1.18-184; Cs, 0.25-25.4; Tl, 0.02-5.80; Pb, 0.70-61.1. Their ranges measured in the gills (in μg/L) were the following: Cd, 0.24-59.2; Cs, 0.39-24.4; Tl, 0.01-1.00; Pb, 0.65-87.2. Although the water of the mining impacted Zletovska River was highly contaminated with several essential metals, especially with Mn and Zn, the majority of essential elements (Na, K, Ca, Mg, Co, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, and Zn) did not reflect the exposure level. In contrast, seven nonessential elements reflected the level of exposure in the water. Significantly increased hepatic and gill concentrations of Cs, Rb, Sr, and Tl were detected in Vardar chub from the Zletovska River compared to the other two rivers, of Cd and Pb in the Zletovska and Kriva River compared to Bregalnica, and of V in the Bregalnica River compared to Zletovska and Kriva rivers. Observed significant metal bioaccumulation, in particular of highly toxic elements, as a consequence of exposure to water contaminated with mining waste points to necessity of intensified supervision of mining impacted rivers.


Acid mine drainage,Agricultural runoff,Essential metals,Fish,Nonessential metals,River,