Limited bioavailability of sediment pah near an aluminum smelter: Contamination does not equal effects
Article first published online: 26 OCT 2009
Copyright © 1996 SETAC
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Volume 15, Issue 11, pages 2003–2018, November 1996
How to Cite
Paine, M. D., Chapman, P. M., Allard, P. J., Murdoch, M. H. and Minifie, D. (1996), Limited bioavailability of sediment pah near an aluminum smelter: Contamination does not equal effects. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 15: 2003–2018. doi: 10.1002/etc.5620151119
- Issue published online: 26 OCT 2009
- Article first published online: 26 OCT 2009
- Manuscript Accepted: 3 MAY 1996
- Manuscript Received: 29 NOV 1995
- Alcan Smelters and Chemicals Ltd.
- EVS Environment Consultants
- Analytical Services Laboratories Ltd.
- Sediment Quality Triad;
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons;
A Sediment Quality Triad study involving synoptic measures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination, toxicity, and resident community (benthic infauna, crab) alteration was conducted to assess impacts from an aluminum smelter discharge. No sediment toxicity was observed, despite extensive testing since 1988 on four test species. Evidence of effects on resident communities was minimal. Effects were not expected in areas >1 km from the smelter, because PAH concentrations have decreased with recent effluent improvements to below levels associated with effects in other studies. However, concentrations within 1 km of the smelter were high (maximum concentration was 10,000 mg/kg total PAH, although most were <150 mg/kg). Based on the literature, those concentrations should have had significant effects on toxicity test responses and benthic communities. Because they did not, we conclude that availability of sediment PAH was limited. Concentrations of parent PAH and metabolites in Dungeness crab (Cancer magister) were also low, supporting the hypothesis of limited bioavailability. Bioavailability may be limited because much of the PAH is present as pitch or coal particles. This study indicates that high contaminant concentrations may not be associated with effects, if availability is limited.