The toxicity of the polluted waters originating from a disused lead mine was evaluated using both sea urchin bioassays and heavy metal analysis. Samples from three polluted waters (a seawater and two freshwaters) were collected from the mine area and one seawater sample was taken from a non-contaminated reference site. The test waters contained higher concentrations of heavy metals such as manganese, lead, cadmium, zinc, chromium, nickel, iron, and copper than did ambient seawater. The three test waters had inhibitory effects, in a dose-dependent manner, on the first cleavage of sea urchin embryos and on pluteus formation during the development. Some malformations, such as a radialized pluteus, exo-gastrula, and spaceship Apollo-like embryos were induced by the test waters without dilution. Zinc alone also induced the same anomaly. Zinc in the test seawater was ascertained as one of the metals that caused the anomalies, but not all of the toxicity was caused by zinc. It was speculated that interactive effects, involving zinc and possibly manganese and nickel, were occurring. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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