Toxicity of fluoranthene in sediment to marine amphipods: A test of the equilibrium partitioning approach to sediment quality criteria



The toxicity of fluoranthene in sediment to the marine benthic amphipods, Rhepoxynius abronius (Barnard) and Corophium spinicorne (Stimpson) was determined in relation to the equilibrium partitioning approach to the development of sediment quality criteria. Toxicity tests were conducted with well-sorted fine sands at three levels of organic carbon (OC), 0.18, 0.31 and 0.48%. Measured interstitial water concentrations of fluoranthene less than 50 μg/L were highly correlated with predictions based on the equilibrium partitioning model. LC50s based on bulk (total) fluoranthene concentrations increased significantly with increasing sediment OC. LC50s based on fluoranthene concentrations in interstitial water were not significantly different between 0.18 and 0.48% OC or between 0.31 and 0.48% OC, but the LC50 at 0.31% OC was significantly higher than that at 0.18% OC. The regression of sediment OC on bulk fluoranthene LC50 was linear, indicating that the concentration of fluoranthene in interstitial water was constant at equitoxic conditions, as predicted by the equilibrium partitioning model. The 10-d LC50 of fluoranthene in interstitial water (23.8 μg/L) was intermediate between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA) acute (40 μg/L) and chronic (16 μg/L) water quality values for fluoranthene. Within the limitations of these experiments (i.e., one chemical, two species, sandy sediment with low carbon content), the results indicate that sediment quality criteria derived from the equilibrium partitioning model and water quality criteria would protect sensitive benthic invertebrates. The epibenthic, tube-dwelling Corophium was less sensitive to test sediments than the infaunal, free-burrowing Rhepoxynius, possibly because of different routes of exposure to fluoranthene. There was a close correspondence between estimates of sediment quality for fluoranthene based on distinctly different methodologies including equilibrium partitioning, apparent effects threshold, toxicity tests applied to experimentally spiked sediment and toxicity tests applied to field-collected sediment.