Effects of chemical fractions from an oil sands end-pit lake on reproduction of fathead minnows


Oil sands process-affected water (OSPW) is a byproduct of bitumen extraction in the surface-mining oil sands industry in Alberta, Canada. Organic compounds in OSPW can be acutely or chronically toxic to aquatic organisms, so part of a long-term strategy for remediation of OSPW is ageing of water in artificial lakes, termed end-pit lakes. BaseMine Lake (BML) is the first oil sands end-pit lake, commissioned in 2012. At the time of its establishment, an effects-directed analysis of BML-OSPW showed that naphthenic acids and polar organic chemical species containing sulfur or nitrogen contributed to its acute lethality. However, the chronic toxicity of these same chemical fractions has not yet been investigated. In this work, the short-term fathead minnow reproductive bioassay was used to assess endocrine-system effects of two fractions of BML-OSPW collected in 2015. One of the fractions (F1) contained predominantly naphthenic acids, while the other (F2) contained non-acidic polar organic chemical species. Exposure of minnows to F1 or F2 at concentrations equivalent to 25% (v/v) of the 2015 BML-OSPW sample (5-15% of the 2012 BML-OSPW sample) did not alter reproductive performance, fertilization success, or concentrations of sex steroids in female or male minnows. Additionally, there were no significant differences in fertility, hatching success, or incidence of morphological indices of embryos collected on day 7 or 14 from exposed breeding trios. However, exposure of male fathead minnow to 25% (v/v) intact 2015 BML-OSPW resulted in a significantly greater hepatosomatic index. Exposure of fathead minnow to refined fractions of dissolved organic chemicals in 2015 BML-OSPW, or a 25% (v/v) of the intact mixture did not affect fertility or fecundity as measured by use of the 21-day reproductive bioassay. These data will be useful in setting future threshold criteria for OSPW reclamation and treatment.

Authors: Morandi G, Wiseman S, Sun C, Martin JW, Giesy JP
; Full Source: Chemosphere. 2020 Feb 1;249:126073. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2020.126073. [Epub ahead of print]