Water Quality Research Journal of Canada

Vol. 37 (1): 21 - 48 (2002). Environmental Effects Monitoring

Sublethal Toxicity Findings by the Pulp and Paper Industry for Cycles 1 and 2 of the Environmental Effects Monitoring Program

   Anne I. Borgmann, Jennifer A. Miller, Richard P. Scroggins, John B. Sprague

Sublethal toxicity tests successfully measured the improved quality of pulp mill effluents from the first cycle of environmental effects monitoring (1992-1996) to the second cycle (1997-2000). Test endpoints showed notable shifts to higher concentrations (less toxic). During the second cycle of monitoring, significantly more tests showed no effect in full-strength effluent. Five case studies were considered as part of this exercise. Most of the improvement came with installation of secondary treatment. Twelve Ontario mills with secondary treatment showed reduced toxicity, compared to results with primary treatment. All 29 sets of sublethal data showed higher IC25s during the second cycle, and 23 of these differences were statistically significant. Any other changes between the two cycles of study caused only marginal overall improvement in toxicity, judging by 12 freshwater mills in British Columbia which had secondary treatment during both cycles. Sublethal tests successfully predicted the zone of potential effect in receiving water, agreeing with effects observed in biological surveys. Overlapping zones from multiple discharges could also be demonstrated. In a situation near Niagara, sublethal tests estimated the proportions of toxic loading that four mills contributed to one water body. The prediction was realistic; the actual toxicity found for a mixed effluent was 57% of that predicted from separate toxicities. The conservative prediction agrees with the usual less-than-additive sublethal action of combined toxicants.

eem, effluent, environmental effects monitoring, pulp mills, sublethal, toxicity

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