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Keywords:

  • Metal bioaccumulation;
  • Metal bioavailability;
  • Metal speciation;
  • Polychaetes;
  • Sediment partitioning

Abstract

We studied the influence of sediment geochemistry on bioavailability of As, Cd, and Cr in deposit-feeding polychaetes. Metal phase speciation in sediments was determined with a sequential extraction scheme, and assimilation efficiencies (AEs) of ingested metals were determined by pulse-chase feeding experiments using γ-emitting isotopes. Worms were fed sediments collected from geochemically diverse estuaries that were labeled by sorbing dissolved radiotracers or mixing with radiolabeled algae. Uptake of sediment-bound metals was compared with that from labeled algae or goethite. Metal AEs showed a positive relationship with the exchangeable and carbonate sedimentary fractions, whereas metals in iron and manganese oxides and acid-volatile sulfides, or in pyrite and other refractory material, were inversely correlated with AEs. Arsenic was most bioavailable from algae (72%), less from sediments mixed with algae (24–70%) and least from sediments labeled directly (1–12%). Arsenic AEs in sediments labeled directly showed a positive correlation with sedimentary Mn and Al and negative correlation with Fe. Cadmium AEs were positively correlated with salinity and negatively correlated with sedimentary organic C. The AEs of Cr from sediments or algae were less than 5%, but they were 34% from pure goethite. By quantifying the relationship of metal speciation in sediments with their bioavailability for deposit-feeding polychaetes, the present study provides new insight into understanding metal bioaccumulation in benthic invertebrates. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011; 30:747–756. © 2011 SETAC