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Biological Effects of Elevated Major Ions in Surface Water Contaminated by a Produced Water from Oil Production

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Abstract

Produced water (PW) from oil and gas extraction processes has been shown to contain elevated concentrations of major ions. The objective of this study was to determine the potential effects of elevated major ions in PW-contaminated surface water on a fish (fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas) and a unionid mussel (fatmucket, Lampsilis siliquoidea) in short-term (7-day) exposures. The test organisms were exposed in 3 reconstituted waters formulated with 1, 2, and 4 times the major ions measured at a PW-contaminated stream site 1 month after a PW spill from an oil production wastewater pipeline in the Williston Basin, North Dakota. A reconstituted water mimicking the ionic composition of an upstream site from the spill was used as a reference water. Significant reductions in survival and growth of the fish were observed in the 4× treatment compared with the reference. The mussels were more sensitive than the fish, with significant reductions in survival in the 2× and 4× treatments, and significant reductions in length in the 1× and 2× treatments. Overall, these results indicate that elevated concentrations of major ions in PW-contaminated surface waters could adversely affect the fish and mussels tested and potentially other aquatic organisms.

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Wang, N., Kunz, J. L., Cleveland, D., Steevens, J. A., & Cozzarelli, I. M. (2019). Biological Effects of Elevated Major Ions in Surface Water Contaminated by a Produced Water from Oil Production. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 76(4), 670–677. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00244-019-00610-3

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