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Toxicity of metals in biological systems


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Stauber, Jennifer L. (Jennifer Lee) 1996 , 'Toxicity of metals in biological systems', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis incorporates reports of research on the development and application of
innovative chemical and biochemical techniques to the study of mechanisms of metal
toxicity m simple single-celled organisms and more complex multicellular organisms
including humans. The thesis is based on research undertaken over the last 10 years
and published m 26 refereed scientific papers
Single-celled algae are the foundation of most aquatic food chains and account for
much of the productivity of aquatic ecosystems Marine and freshwater algae are
particularly sensitive to a wide range of metals and organic compounds, and their
viability can be used as an indicator of environmental change. Chrome toxicity tests,
based on algal growth and enzyme inhibition, have been developed and applied to
assessments of the bioavailability and toxicity of metals in aquatic systems Specific
applications of the algal bioassays for assessing mine-derived contaminants in natural
systems has been described
Knowledge of modes of action of different metal species at a sub-cellular level is
essential to understanding and predicting the bioavailability and toxicity of metals in
natural waters. Research on the mechanisms of toxicity of copper and zinc to
microalgae has been described, with particular emphasis on the link between chemical
speciation and toxicity

Research on the mechanisms of toxicity of metals was extended from the study of
simple unicellular organisms to investigating metal toxicity in humans. Novel
methods for analysing metals in human sweat, urine and hair were developed, with
particular emphasis on lead and manganese These techniques were used to study skin
absorption of lead in occupationally-exposed workers and in the study of manganese
toxicity in Australian aborigines from Groote Eylandt, Northern Territory
Skin absorption was identified as a new route of exposure to inorganic lead in
humans The ability of lead salts to enter the body through the skin without
significantly raising blood lead levels has important implications for occupational
health control because measurement of lead in blood is the main criterion which has
previously been used to assess exposure Additional biological monitoring techniques that can detect skin-absorbed lead are now required by occupational health and safety
authorities. The research described in this thesis has shown that the mechanisms of toxicity of
metals is largely dependant on the chemical form of the metal. By taking into account
the speciation of the metal and its mode of action within the cell, it is now possible to
predict the toxicity of metals and to identify those factors which ameliorate toxicity in
natural waters and biological systems, thus facilitating timely and cost-effective

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Stauber, Jennifer L. (Jennifer Lee)
Keywords: Metals, Metals in the body, Metals
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). 1997.

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1997. Includes bibliographical references. Partial contents: 1. Toxicity of heavy metals - an overview --2. Mechanisms of toxicity of metals to unicellular algae --3. Development and application of bioassays with unicellular algae -- 4. Toxicity of metals to humans

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