The chronic toxicity of sediment-associated 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) to the marine polychaete Neanthes arenaceodentata and the estuarine amphipod Leptocheirus plumulosus was evaluated. Test organisms were exposed to sediments spiked with radiolabeled TNT for 28 d, after which time the endpoints of mortality, growth, and reproduction (L. plumulosus only) were assayed and compared against the TNT tissue concentrations as well as the TNT sediment concentrations. Survival was significantly reduced at a tissue concentration of 61 μg TNT/g wet wt tissue in N. arenaceodentata and at 6.3 μg TNT/g wet wt tissue in L. plumulosus. The growth end point demonstrated an apparent hormesis effect in both N. arenaceodentata and L. plumulosus with enhancement (significant for N. arenaceodentata) occurring at the lower TNT concentrations. Growth was significantly reduced at the highest TNT exposure of 10.0 μg TNT/g wet wt tissue in L. plumulosus. Reproduction was significantly reduced at a tissue concentration of 6.3 μg TNT/g wet wt tissue in L. plumulosus. The results of this study demonstrate that both N. arenaceodentata and L. plumulosus are sensitive to the presence of sediment-associated TNT and that more information is needed about the toxicity of TNT to benthic fauna to facilitate risk assessment and management of TNT-contaminated sites.
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