Bismuth in freshwater and marine water

​​Toxicant default guideline values for protecting aquatic ecosystems

October 2000

Extracted from Section 8.3.7 ‘Detailed descriptions of chemicals'​ of the ANZECC & ARMCANZ (2000) guidelines.

The default guideline values (previously known as ‘trigger values’) and associated information in this technical brief should be used in accordance with the detailed guidance provided in the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality.

Description of chemical

Bismuth is in the same group in the Periodic Table (Group V) as phosphorus, arsenic and antimony. Bismuth forms alloys with various metals and has some properties in common with the other Group V elements (Cotton & Wilkinson 1983). The current analytical practical quantitation limit (PQL) for bismuth is 0.01 mg/L in fresh water and 0.3 µg/L in marine water (NSW EPA 2000).


The only data for bismuth were 2 to 4-day EC50 (immobilisation) of 662 to 14,790 µg/L for Tubifex sp. As there were insufficient data to derive a guideline value for bismuth, a freshwater environmental concern level (ECL) (see Section of the ANZECC & ARMCANZ 2000 guidelines) of 0.7 µg/L is suggested, for use as an indicative interim working level. No marine data were available.


ANZECC & ARMCANZ 2000. Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality, Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council and Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand, Canberra.

Cotton FA & Wilkinson FRS 1983. Advanced inorganic chemistry. Wiley Interscience, New York.

NSW EPA 2000. Analytical Chemistry Section, Table of Trigger Values 20 March 2000, LD33/11, Lidcombe, NSW.