Chapter 2. The Effects of Lanthanum on Aquatic Organisms


C. Figueiredo¹, P. Brito¹,², M. Caetano¹,² and J. Raimundo¹,²
¹CIIMAR – Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, Matosinhos, Portugal
²Division of Oceanography and Marine Environment, IPMA – Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere, Algés, Portugal

Part of the book: What to Know about Lanthanum


Our high-technology society is increasingly reliant on technology-critical elements (TCE), such as the Rare Earth Elements (REE). These elements are vital to “environmental-friendly” technologies, agriculture, and medical applications (e.g., MRI contrasts). With growing REE applications, emission to aquatic ecosystems rises through mining, ore processing, fossil fuel burn, and disposal of end life products (e.g., e-waste). Remarkably, maximum REE levels and discharges to the aquatic environment present no regulatory thresholds as evidence on the risks of increasing REE availability is limited. Nevertheless, REE are contaminants of emerging environmental concern that enter the aquatic medium through manifold ways. Lanthanum (La) is one of the most abundant and reactive REE in the environment and, thus, is relevant to understand its fate, bioavailability, bioaccumulation, and toxicological limits. This chapter analyses previously available scientific information on the La bioaccumulation, elimination, and ecotoxicology, focusing on freshwater and marine organisms. Lanthanum impacts biological responses and traits in multiple ways and may show interactive effects on marine biota coupled with other chemical and abiotic stressors. We will shortly explain the organisms’ bioaccumulation and elimination capacity, while providing an overview of their hampering effects, at different levels of biological organization from microorganisms to plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates. Lanthanum can be detected in almost all biota although information on its speciation is regularly not available. Publications on trophic transfer of La was not found and hence biomagnification evidence is lacking. Nevertheless, La ecotoxicological outcomes are dispersed, mainly due to species specific differences and exposure conditions disparity that include exposure to distinct La compounds. This chapter highlights an urgent need for further studies on this emerging problem.

 Keywords: rare earth elements, Lanthanum, bioaccumulation, elimination, ecotoxicity, review


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