U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Document Type


Date of this Version



Published in Water Research 7 (1973), pp. 1723-1736.


Fathead minnows were exposed to a series or concentrations of a copper, cadmium and zinc mixture during a 12.5 month chronic test in water of 200 mg 1-1 total hardness. The metal concentrations in the mixture were selected on the basis of results obtained during previous chronic exposures to each of the metals individually in the same water. Strict summation of the chronic toxicities of the metals was not indicated when they were tested in combination. Toxic effects of the mixture attributable to copper appeared to be increased, but that attributable to cadmium was reduced. The effects thought to be due to zinc were similar in degree to those observed in the single chronic exposure. Summation of effects resulting from a mixture containing about the same proportions of copper, cadmium and zinc occurred at a much higher, acutely lethal concentration. A lethal threshold was attained in the mixture when each metal was present at a concentration of 0.4 or less of its individual lethal threshold.