Biosensor based toxicity dissection of tannery and associated environmental samples

M Mwinyihija, N J C Strachan, A Meharg, K Killham

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Kenyan tannery and associated environmental samples were selected for ecotoxicological assessment. A tool-kit of techniques was developed, including whole-cell biosensor and chemical assays. A luminescence based bacterial biosensor (Escherichia coli HB101 pUCD607) (via a multi-copy plasmid) was used for toxicity assessment. Samples were manipulated prior to biosensor interrogation to identify the nature of the toxic contaminants. Untreated samples (before any manipulations) showed a strong toxic effect at the discharge point in comparison to other sampling points. Sparging was used to identify toxicity associated with volatile organics. The toxicity of contaminants, removed by treatment with activated charcoal was identified for all the sampling points except for those upstream of effluent discharges. Filtration identified toxicity associated with suspended solids. Changes in availability of toxic contaminants due to pH adjustment of most samples from the tannery effluent treatment pits were also associated with the extreme pH values (4.0 and 8.0). The approach used has highlighted the complexicity of toxic pollutants in effluent from the tanning industry and the dissection of toxicity points to possible remediation strategies for effluents from the tanning industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-490
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Leather Chemists Association
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • lux-modified bacterial
  • waste-water
  • pseudomonas-fluorescens
  • chromium speciation
  • Escherichia-Coli
  • soil
  • reduction
  • effluent
  • bioavailability
  • degradation


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