• Sediment toxicity;
  • Amphipods;
  • PAH;
  • Toxic units


The ΣPAH model estimates the probability of toxicity of PAH-contaminated sediments using a combination of equilibrium partitioning, QSAR, toxic unit, additivity, and concentration-response models. The sediment concentration of organic carbon and 13 PAH (polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon) compounds were measured. Interstitial water concentrations (PAH1W) of the 13 compounds were predicted by equilibrium partitioning. The 10-d LC50 of each compound in interstitial water (10-d LC501W) was predicted by a QSAR regression of 10-d LC501W (from spiked sediment tests) to Kow. Toxic unit concentrations of individual compounds (TU1) were predicted as PAH1w/10-d LC501w. The total number of toxic units of the 13 compounds (ΣTU1) was calculated assuming the additivity of toxic effects of PAHs. ΣTU1 was used to predict the probability of toxicity to marine and estuarine amphipods using a concentration-response model derived from spiked sediment toxicity tests. The ΣPAH model was verified by comparing predicted and observed toxicity in field-collected sediment samples. There was 86.6% correspondence and no significant difference between predicted and observed toxicity at PAH-contaminated sites. Ecological-effect levels predicted by theΣPAH model correspond with several sediment-quality guidelines.