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    Comparative Sensitivity of Sediment Toxicity Bioassays at Three Superfund Sites in Puget Sound

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    The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the relative sensitivity of seven sediment toxicity bioassays comprising a total of 13 endpoints. The bioassays were conducted simultaneously on dilution series of contaminated sediments collected from three Superfund sites in Puget Sound. Sediment chemistry measurements confirmed that effective gradients of contamination were established within each of the sediment series tested. The Photobacterium phosphoreum (Microtox with saline and organic extract of sediment) and the Dendraster excentricus embryo abnormality tests were generally the most sensitive bioassays in terms of ability to detect statistically significant (P ≤ 0.05) effects relative to responses to reference sediments. The rank order of statistical sensitivity of the other tests was as follows: Rhepoxynius abronius mortality = Eohaustorius estuarius mortality > Neanthes arenaceodentata biomass > Neanthes arenaceodentata mortality = Dendraster excentricus chromosomal abnormality > Rhepoxynius abronius nonreburial > Eohaustorius estuarius nonreburial = Panope generosa mortality. The bioassays differed in their statistical sensitivity (i.e., as measured by the number of significant toxic effects) and biological sensitivity (i.e., as measured by EC50) to particular sediments contaminated with different kinds of chemicals (e.g., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons versus metals). For example, the Photobacterium phosphoreum saline extract test was not always as biologically sensitive (i.e., low EC50) as other bioassays (e.g., the Rhepoxynius abronius and Eohaustorius estuarius bioassays appeared to be more sensitive to aromatic hydrocarbons).


    sediment bioassay, sediment toxicity, biological sensitivity, Rhepoxynius abronius, Eohaustorius estuarius, Panope generosa, Neanthes arenaceodentata, Dendraster excentricus, Photobacterium phosphoreum, Microtox

    Author Information:

    Pastorok, RA
    PTI Environmental Services, Bellevue, WA

    Becker, DS
    PTI Environmental Services, Bellevue, WA

    Committee/Subcommittee: E47.03

    DOI: 10.1520/STP20103S