Get access

Development and evaluation of consensus-based sediment effect concentrations for polychlorinated biphenyls

Authors

  • Donald D. MacDonald,

    Corresponding author
    1. MacDonald Environmental Sciences Ltd., 2376 Yellow Point Road, Nanaimo, British Columbia V9X 1W5, Canada
    • MacDonald Environmental Sciences Ltd., 2376 Yellow Point Road, Nanaimo, British Columbia V9X 1W5, Canada
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Lisa M. Dipinto,

    1. ORCA Damage Assessment Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 1305 East-West Highway Room 10218, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910-3281, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jay Field,

    1. Hazardous Materials Response and Assessment Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Christopher G. Ingersoll,

    1. Columbia Environmental Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 New Haven Road, Columbia, Missouri 65201
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Edward R. Lvong,

    1. Coastal Monitoring and Bioeffects Assessment Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington DC 98115, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Richard C Swartz

    1. P.O. Box 397, Placida, Florida 33946-0397, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

  • The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or any of its subagencies.

Abstract

Sediment-quality guidelines (SQGs) have been published for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) using both empirical and theoretical approaches. Empirically based guidelines have been developed using the screening-level concentration, effects range, effects level, and apparent effects threshold approaches. Theoretically based guidelines have been developed using the equilibrium-partitioning approach. Empirically-based guidelines were classified into three general categories, in accordance with their original narrative intents, and used to develop three consensus-based sediment effect concentrations (SECs) for total PCBs (tPCBs), including a threshold effect concentration, a midrange effect concentration, and an extreme effect concentration. Consensus-based SECs were derived because they estimate the central tendency of the published SQGs and, thus, reconcile the guidance values that have been derived using various approaches. Initially, consensus-based SECs for tPCBs were developed separately for freshwater sediments and for marine and estuarine sediments. Because the respective SECs were statistically similar, the underlying SQGs were subsequently merged and used to formulate more generally applicable SECs. The three consensus-based SECs were then evaluated for reliability using matching sediment chemistry and toxicity data from field studies, dose-response data from spiked-sediment toxicity tests, and SQGs derived from the equilibrium-partitioning approach. The results of this evaluation demonstrated that the consensus-based SECs can accurately predict both the presence and absence of toxicity in field-collected sediments. Importantly, the incidence of toxicity increases incrementally with increasing concentrations of tPCBs. Moreover, the consensus-based SECs are comparable to the chronic toxicity thresholds that have been estimated from dose-response data and equilibrium-partitioning models. Therefore, consensus-based SECs provide a unifying synthesis of existing SQGs, reflect causal rather than correlative effects, and accurately predict sediment toxicity in PCB-contaminated sediments.

Ancillary