Bioavailability has been estimated in the past using equilibrium partitioning-based biota-sediment accumulation factors. These values are not always reliable using field-collected sediments, however, likely due to varying amounts of different organic carbons, particularly black carbon, in sediments. Therefore, improving approaches to better evaluate contaminant bioavailability in sediment are needed. In the present study, a literature-based model was constructed that relied on both laboratory-exposed and field-collected oligochaete bioaccumulation data. The model system used 24-h Tenax extraction data paired with bioaccumulation tests using oligochaetes to establish the ability and utility of the biomimetic extraction. The model was then tested to confirm its utility and reliability to estimate bioavailability of oligochaetes exposed to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated sediments from the Ottawa River in Ohio, USA. The model correctly identified the bioaccumulation of PCBs for 94.9% of the data and 97% of the dioxin-like congeners. The mono- and di-substituted chlorinated biphenyls were the least well described, but the estimates were conservative, for example, the model overpredicted bioaccumulation. Thus, the Tenax model was robust and reliable across a wide range of sediment characteristics for estimating PCB bioaccumulation in oligochaetes. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012; 31: 2210–2216. © 2012 SETAC
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