Several techniques have been developed to assess the ecotoxicity of contaminated watercourses. Most of these techniques involve chemical alterations of water samples, by diluting it or by adding chelating agents. These changes become particularly severe when assessing the toxicity of samples with very low pH and with high quantities of contaminants. Trying to overcome this problem, a novel toxicity test, specific for acid waters, was previously developed and field validated. The toxicity of acid samples is assessed using the survival time of Ceriodaphnia dubia. During this study, the novel test was applied to a field situation, where an aquatic system is seriously impacted with acid mine drainage. Its efficiency was tested and compared with two classical toxicity tests: the Microtox and the median lethal dilution with C. dubia. The survival time test was performed without adjusting pH and after adjusting pH to a fixed value (pH 2, 3, and 4). At pH 2 and 4 no acceptable results were obtained; at pH 3 it was possible to distinguish the toxicity due to pH from the toxicity due to other toxicants. The test conducted at local pH was able to discriminate toxicity sources only for highly contaminated samples. The toxicity evaluation of acid mine drainage samples was possible neither with the median lethal dilution test nor with Microtox.
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