Metal Bioaccumulation in Aquatic Species: Quantification of Uptake and Elimination Rate Constants Using Physicochemical Properties of Metals and Physiological Characteristics of Species

Mechanistic bioaccumulation models are powerful tools in environmental risk assessment as they provide insight in varying accumulation patterns across species, contaminants, and conditions, and they are applicable beyond tested cases. In these models key parameters, as absorption and elimination rate constants, are predicted based on chemical specific properties and physiological characteristics. However, due to the complex environmental behavior of metals, the development of mechanistic bioaccumulation models has lagged behind that for organic chemicals. Absorption and elimination rate constants of organic substances have long been linked to their octanol–water partition coefficient, yet no equivalent quantitative relationships exist for metals. In the present study, we successfully related metal absorption rate constants to a metal specific property, the covalent index, and a species-characteristic, the ventilation rate. This quantitative relationship holds for a wide range of organisms and metals, i.e., 17 aquatic species and 10 metals, suggesting that a generic modeling approach of metal uptake kinetics is feasible for aquatic organisms. In contrast, elimination rate constants show no metal - specific character. Average, weight-corrected elimination rate constants are relatively similar among metals and species, suggesting that a single weight-corrected elimination rate constant can be used in bioaccumulation studies on aquatic species.