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Fluoride Toxicity To Aquatic Organisms

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Fluoride toxicity to aquatic organisms: a review.

JA Camargo

Chemosphere, January 1, 2003; 50(3): 251-64.

Departamento Interuniversitario de Ecología, Edificio de Ciencias, Universidad de Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid E-28871, Spain. Download to Citation Manager

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Published data on the toxicity of fluoride (F-) to algae, aquatic plants, invertebrates and fishes are reviewed. Aquatic organisms living in soft waters may be more adversely affected by fluoride pollution than those living in hard or seawaters because the bioavailability of fluoride ions is reduced with increasing water hardness. Fluoride can either inhibit or enhance the population growth of algae, depending upon fluoride concentration, exposure time and algal species. Aquatic plants seem to be effective in removing fluoride from contaminated water under laboratory and field conditions. In aquatic animals, fluoride tends to be accumulated in the exoskeleton of invertebrates and in the bone tissue of fishes. The toxic action of fluoride resides in the fact that fluoride ions act as enzymatic poisons, inhibiting enzyme activity and, ultimately, interrupting metabolic processes such as glycolysis and synthesis of proteins. Fluoride toxicity to aquatic invertebrates and fishes increases with increasing fluoride concentration, exposure time and water temperature, and decreases with increasing intraspecific body size and water content of calcium and chloride. Freshwater invertebrates and fishes, especially net-spinning caddisfly larvae and upstream-migrating adult salmons, appear to be more sensitive to fluoride toxicity than estuarine and marine animals. Because, in soft waters with low ionic content, a fluoride concentration as low as 0.5 mg F-/l can adversely affect invertebrates and fishes, safe levels below this fluoride/l concentration are recommended in order to protect freshwater animals from fluoride pollution.


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