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A comparison of sediment toxicity test methods at three Great Lake Areas of Concern

January 1, 1996

The significance of sediment contamination is often evaluated using sediment toxicity (bioassay) testing. There are relatively few “standardized” test methods for evaluating sediments. Popular sediment toxicity methods examine the extractable water (elutriate), interstitial water, or whole (bulk) sediment phases using test species spanning the aquatic food chain from bacteria to fish. The current study was designed to evaluate which toxicity tests were most useful in evaluations of sediment contamination at three Great Lake Areas of Concern. Responses of 24 different organisms including fish, mayflies, amphipods, midges, cladocerans, rotifers, macrophytes, algae, and bacteria were compared using whole sediment or elutriate toxicity assays. Sediments from several sites in the Buffalo River, Calumet River (Indiana Harbor), and Saginaw River were tested, as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Sediments (ARCS) Project. Results indicated several assays to be sensitive to sediment toxicity and able to discriminate between differing levels of toxicity. Many of the assay responses were significantly correlated to other toxicity responses and were similar based on factor analysis. For most applications, a test design consisting of two to three assays should adequately detect sediment toxicity, consisting of various groupings of the following species: Hyalella azteca, Ceriodaphnia dubia, Chironomus riparius, Chironomus tentans, Daphnia magna, Pimephales promelas, Hexagenia bilineata, Diporeia sp., Hydrilla verticillata, or Lemna minor.

Publication Year 1996
Title A comparison of sediment toxicity test methods at three Great Lake Areas of Concern
DOI 10.1016/S0380-1330(96)70975-9
Authors G. Allen Burton, Christopher G. Ingersoll, LouAnn C. Burnett, Mary Henry, Mark L. Hinman, Stephen J. Klaine, Peter F. Landrum, Phillipe Ross, Marc Tuchman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Great Lakes Research
Index ID 70176936
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center