Scientific article
Open access

Chromium hazard and risk assessment: new insights from a detailed speciation study in a standard test medium

Published inEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry, vol. 37, no. 4, p. 983-922
Publication date2018

Despite the consensus about the importance of chemical speciation in controlling the bioavailability and ecotoxicity of trace elements, detailed speciation studies during laboratory ecotoxicity testing remain scarce, contributing to uncertainty when extrapolating laboratory findings to real field situations in risk assessment. We characterized the speciation and ecotoxicological effects of CrIII and CrVI in the OECD medium for algal ecotoxicity testing. Total and dissolved (< 0.22 µm) Cr concentrations showed little variability in media spiked with CrVI, while dissolved Cr concentration decreased by as much as 80% over 72 hours in medium amended with CrIII. Analyses by ion chromatography ICP-MS highlighted the absence of redox interconversion between CrIII or CrVI both in the presence and absence of algal cells (Raphidocelis subcapitata). Furthermore, the concentration of ionic CrIII dropped below detection limits in less than 2 hours with the corresponding formation of carbonate complexes and Cr hydroxides. Precipitation of CrIII in the form of colloidal particles of variable diameters was confirmed by nanoparticle tracking analysis, spICP-MS and single particle counting. In terms of time weighted dissolved (< 0.22 µm) Cr concentration, CrIII was 4 to 10 times more toxic than CrVI. However, CrIII ecotoxicity could arise from interactions between free ionic CrIII and algae at the beginning of the test, from the presence of Cr-bearing nanoparticles or a combination of the two. Future ecotoxicological studies must pay more attention to Cr speciation to reliably compare the ecotoxicity of CrIII and CrVI.

  • Trace metals
  • Chromium
  • Metal speciation
  • Algae
  • Hazard/Risk assessment
Citation (ISO format)
AHARCHAOU, Imad et al. Chromium hazard and risk assessment: new insights from a detailed speciation study in a standard test medium. In: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 2018, vol. 37, n° 4, p. 983–922. doi: 10.1002/etc.4044
Main files (2)
Article (Accepted version)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1552-8618

Technical informations

Creation12/01/2017 9:21:00 AM
First validation12/01/2017 9:21:00 AM
Update time03/15/2023 2:31:17 AM
Status update03/15/2023 2:31:17 AM
Last indexation01/17/2024 1:39:28 AM
All rights reserved by Archive ouverte UNIGE and the University of GenevaunigeBlack