• Sediment;
  • Bioaccumulation;
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons;
  • Freely dissolved concentrations;
  • Activated carbon amendment


The present paper describes a study on the bioaccumulation of native polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from three harbors in Norway using the polychaete Nereis diversicolor and the gastropod Hinia reticulata. First, biota–sediment accumulation factors (BSAFs) were measured in laboratory bioassays using the original sediments. Median BSAFs were 0.004 to 0.01 kg organic carbon/kg lipid (10 PAHs and 6 organism–sediment combinations), which was a factor of 89 to 240 below the theoretical BSAF based on total sediment contents (which is approximately one). However, if BSAFs were calculated on the basis of measured freely dissolved PAH concentrations in the pore water (measured with polyoxymethylene passive samplers), it appeared that these BSAFfree values agreed well with the measured BSAFs, within a factor of 1.7 to 4.3 (median values for 10 PAHs and six organism–sediment combinations). This means that for bioaccumulation, freely dissolved pore-water concentrations appear to be a much better measure than total sediment contents. Second, we tested the effect of 2% (of sediment dry wt) activated carbon (AC) amendments on BSAF. The BSAFs were significantly reduced by a factor of six to seven for N. diversicolor in two sediments (i.e., two of six organism–sediment combinations), whereas no significant reduction was observed for H. reticulata. This implies that either site-specific evaluations of AC amendment are necessary, using several site-relevant benthic organisms, or that the physiology of H. reticulata caused artifactually high BSAF values in the presence of AC.