Classifying probabilities of acute toxicity in marine sediments with empirically derived sediment quality guidelines

Authors

  • Edward R. Long,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA
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  • Donald D. MacDonald,

    1. MacDonald Environmental Sciences Ltd., 2376 Yellow Point Road, R.R. 3, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada V9X 1W5
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  • Corinne G. Severn,

    1. EVS Environment Consultants, 200 West Mercer Street, Suite 403 Seattle, Washington 98119, USA
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  • Carolyn B. Hong

    1. EVS Environment Consultants, 200 West Mercer Street, Suite 403 Seattle, Washington 98119, USA
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Abstract

Matching, marine sediment chemistry, and toxicity data(n = 1,513), compiled from three studies conducted in the United States, were analyzed to determine both the frequency of acute toxicity to amphipods and average percentage survival in laboratory bioassays within ranges in toxicant concentrations. We determined that the probability of observing acute toxicity was relatively low (<10%) and that average control-adjusted survival equaled or exceeded 92% in samples in which sediment quality guidelines were not exceeded. Both the incidence of toxicity increased and average survival decreased as chemical concentrations increased relative to the guidelines. In sediments with highest contaminant concentrations, 73 to 83% of the samples were highly toxic, and average control-adjusted amphipod survival was 37 to 46%. Results of this study confirm that the relationships between sediment chemical concentrations and toxicity reported in a previous study were robust. Further, they indicate that numerical guidelines for saltwater sediments can be used to estimate the probability of observing toxic effects in acute amphipod tests.

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