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 February 2007
Tech News

Proposed Amphibian Toxicity Test Will Aid Site Contamination Assessment

A concern about the ecology of wetlands on U.S. Navy and other Department of Defense facilities has been the impetus for the development of a proposed new ASTM International standard, WK13030, Guide for Conducting Whole Sediment Toxicity Tests with Amphibians. The proposed guide, which is being developed by Subcommittee E47.03 on Sediment Assessment and Toxicology, will allow users to study the level of contamination in a wetlands area and its effects on the animals. Subcommittee E47.03 is part of ASTM International Committee E47 on Biological Effects and Environmental Fate.“

Amphibians are often one of the most visible, if not dominant, vertebrates in these wetlands and have been suggested as an important sentinel species,” says Amy Hawkins, a biologist at the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center, Port Hueneme, Calif. “When assessing risk to amphibians, it is desirable to have a method that looks directly at the exposure of early-life stage amphibians to contaminated sentiments.”

WK13030 will be used in the evaluation of sediments and hydric soils at potentially contaminated sites in which amphibians are important biological receptors. Results of tests done using the proposed new standard would be included with other biological and chemical data to give an indication of the extent of site contamination, as well as the extent of necessary cleanup measures to be taken. WK13030 testing might also be used in monitoring a site after remediation has been accomplished.

Hawkins says that WK13030 will be used by anyone assessing potentially contaminated sites where amphibian populations may be at risk. “It would be used to ensure that ecologically appropriate endpoints are included, leading to more accurate risk assessment,” says Hawkins, who notes that the proposed standard may also be used by regulatory agencies that are overseeing assessment, management and remediation of contaminated sites.

In addition, WK13030 will be useful in testing various compounds to evaluate their toxicity to amphibians. “This can be done in a sediment-spiking study where known concentrations of chemicals are added to test sediment and larval amphibians are exposed to the spiked sediment under test conditions,” explains Hawkins. “These data could be coupled with information from other standardized toxicity tests in order to produce a more complete picture of potential environmental impact.”

All interested parties are invited to participate in the ongoing development of WK13030. //


Technical Information: Amy Hawkins, Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center, Port Hueneme, Calif.
Phone: 805/982-4890

ASTM Staff: Scott Orthey
Phone: 610/832-9730

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