The Predicted No Effect Concentration (PNEC) for dissolved copper based on the species sensitivity distribution (SSD) of 24 marine single species tests was validated in marine mesocosms. To achieve this, the impact of actively maintained concentrations of dissolved copper on a marine benthic and planktonic community was studied in 18 outdoor 4.6 m3 mesocosms. Five treatment levels, ranging from 2.9 to 31 µg dissolved Cu/L, were created in triplicate and maintained for 82 days. Clear effects were observed on gastropod and bivalve molluscs, phytoplankton, zooplankton, sponges and sessile algae. The most sensitive biological endpoints; reproduction success of the bivalve Cerastoderma edule, copepod population development and periphyton growth were significantly affected at concentrations of 9.9 µg Cu/L and higher. The No Observed Effect Concentration (NOEC) derived from this study was 5.7 µg dissolved Cu/L. Taking into account the DOC concentration of the mesocosm water this NOEC is comparable to the PNEC derived from the SSD.
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