WHAM-FTOXβ – An aquatic toxicity model based on intrinsic metal toxic potency and intrinsic species sensitivity

Edward Tipping, Stephen Lofts, Anthony Stockdale

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We developed a model that quantifies aquatic cationic toxicity by a combination of the intrinsic toxicities of metals and protons and the intrinsic sensitivities of the test species. It is based on the WHAM-FTOX model, which combines the calculated binding of cations by the organism with toxicity coefficients (αH, αM) to estimate the variable FTOX, a measure of toxic effect; the key parameter αM,max (applying at infinite time) depends upon both the metal and the test species. In our new model, WHAM-FTOXβ, values of αM,max are given by the product αM*×β, where αM* has a single value for each metal, and β a single value for each species. To parameterise WHAM-FTOXβ, we assembled a set of 2182 estimates of αM,max obtained by applying the basic model to laboratory toxicity data for 76 different test species, covering 15 different metals, and including results for metal mixtures. Then we fitted the log10¬ αM,max values with αM* and β values (a total of 91 parameters). The resulting model accounted for 72% of the variance in log10¬ αM,max. The values of αM* increased markedly as the chemical character of the metal changed from hard (average αM* = 4.4) to intermediate (average αM* = 25) to soft (average αM* = 560). The values of log10 β were normally distributed, with a 5-95 percentile range of -0.73 to +0.56, corresponding to β values of 0.18 to 3.62. The WHAM-FTOXβ model entails the assumption that test species exhibit common relative sensitivity, i.e. the ratio αM,max / αM* is constant across all metals. This was tested with data from studies in which the toxic responses of a single organism towards two or more metals had been measured (179 examples for the most-tested metals Ni, Cu, Zn, Ag, Cd, Pb), and statistically-significant (p < 0.003) results were obtained.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106503
JournalAquatic Toxicology
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2023


  • Chemical speciation
  • Metals
  • Species sensitivity
  • WHAM


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