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By P M Chapman; William J Adams; Marjorie Brooks; SETAC (Society)

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Spinal deformities in Columbia spotted frog embryos with Se concentrations up to 20 mg/kg dw were documented in the Elk River Valley (BC, Canada) watershed (Appendix A). The reproductive effects and developmental consequences of Se deposition into reptilian eggs remain largely unexplored. A field study with adult amphibians demonstrated that females that transferred excessive concentrations of Se and Sr to their eggs also experienced significant reproductive impairment, including teratogenic effects characteristic of Se toxicity (Hopkins et al.

2006). In addition to reproductive impairment, Se has a variety of other sublethal effects, including reductions in growth and condition index (Sorenson et al. 1984; Heinz et al. 1987; Ohlendorf 2003), tissue pathology (Sorenson et al. 1982a, 1982b, 1983a, 1983b, 1984; Sorenson 1988), and induction of oxidative stress (Spallholz and Hoffman 2002; Palace et al. 2004). Selenium can be lethal to adult organisms (Ohlendorf 1989, 2003; Heinz 1996) as demonstrated by mass mortalities of adult coots (Fulica americana) that occurred in agricultural drainwater habitats in California (USA) (Skorupa 1998).

Quantum dots are nanometerscale crystallites that function as semiconductors because of quantum confinement effects that occur when the size of the particles approaches the wavelength of their electrons (Reiss et al. 2009). These materials are useful in optoelectronic devices such as light-emitting diodes and photovoltaics. In addition to potential toxicity resulting from degradation of these materials and associated release of Se, emergent properties of the solid-state materials could also elicit toxic responses.

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