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    ASTM E1391 - 03(2014)

    Standard Guide for Collection, Storage, Characterization, and Manipulation of Sediments for Toxicological Testing and for Selection of Samplers Used to Collect Benthic Invertebrates

    Active Standard ASTM E1391 | Developed by Subcommittee: E50.47

    Book of Standards Volume: 11.06

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    Significance and Use

    5.1 Sediment toxicity evaluations are a critical component of environmental quality and ecosystem impact assessments, and are used to meet a variety of research and regulatory objectives. The manner in which the sediments are collected, stored, characterized, and manipulated can influence the results of any sediment quality or process evaluation greatly. Addressing these variables in a systematic and uniform manner will aid the interpretations of sediment toxicity or bioaccumulation results and may allow comparisons between studies.

    5.2 Sediment quality assessment is an important component of water quality protection. Sediment assessments commonly include physicochemical characterization, toxicity tests or bioaccumulation tests, as well as benthic community analyses. The use of consistent sediment collection, manipulation, and storage methods will help provide high quality samples with which accurate data can be obtained for the national inventory and for other programs to prevent, remediate, and manage contaminated sediment.

    5.3 It is now widely known that the methods used in sample collection, transport, handling, storage, and manipulation of sediments and interstitial waters can influence the physicochemical properties and the results of chemical, toxicity, and bioaccumulation analyses. Addressing these variables in an appropriate and systematic manner will provide more accurate sediment quality data and facilitate comparisons among sediment studies.

    5.4 This standard provides current information and recommendations for collecting and handling sediments for physicochemical characterization and biological testing, using procedures that are most likely to maintain in situ conditions, most accurately represent the sediment in question, or satisfy particular needs, to help generate consistent, high quality data collection.

    5.5 This standard is intended to provide technical support to those who design or perform sediment quality studies under a variety of regulatory and non-regulatory programs. Information is provided concerning general sampling design considerations, field and laboratory facilities needed, safety, sampling equipment, sample storage and transport procedures, and sample manipulation issues common to chemical or toxicological analyses. Information contained in this standard reflects the knowledge and experience of several internationally-known sources including the Puget Sound Estuary Program (PSEP), Washington State Department of Ecology (WDE), United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Environment Canada. This standard attempts to present a coherent set of recommendations on field sampling techniques and sediment or interstitial water sample processing based on the above sources, as well as extensive information in the peer-reviewed literature.

    5.6 As the scope of this standard is broad, it is impossible to adequately present detailed information on every aspect of sediment sampling and processing for all situations. Nor is such detailed guidance warranted because much of this information (for example, how to operate a particular sampling device or how to use a Geographical Positioning System (GPS) device) already exists in other published materials referenced in this standard.

    5.7 Given the above constraints, this standard: (1) presents a discussion of activities involved in sediment sampling and sample processing; (2) alerts the user to important issues that should be considered within each activity; and (3) gives recommendations on how to best address the issues raised such that appropriate samples are collected and analyzed. An attempt is made to alert the user to different considerations pertaining to sampling and sample processing depending on the objectives of the study (for example, remediation, dredged material evaluations or status and trends monitoring).

    5.8 The organization of this standard reflects the desire to give field personnel and managers a useful tool for choosing appropriate sampling locations, characterize those locations, collect and store samples, and manipulate those samples for analyses. Each section of this standard is written so that the reader can obtain information on only one activity or set of activities (for example, subsampling or sample processing), if desired, without necessarily reading the entire standard. Many sections are cross-referenced so that the reader is alerted to relevant issues that might be covered elsewhere in the standard. This is particularly important for certain chemical or toxicological applications in which appropriate sample processing or laboratory procedures are associated with specific field sampling procedures.

    5.9 The methods contained in this standard are widely applicable to any entity wishing to collect consistent, high quality sediment data. This standard does not provide guidance on how to implement any specific regulatory requirement, or design a particular sediment quality assessment, but rather it is a compilation of technical methods on how to best collect environmental samples that most appropriately address common sampling objectives.

    5.10 The information presented in this standard should not be viewed as the final statement on all the recommended procedures. Many of the topics addressed in this standard (for example, sediment holding time, formulated sediment composition, interstitial water collection and processing) are the subject of ongoing research. As data from sediment monitoring and research becomes available in the future, this standard will be updated as necessary.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This guide covers procedures for obtaining, storing, characterizing, and manipulating marine, estuarine, and freshwater sediments, for use in laboratory sediment toxicity evaluations and describes samplers that can be used to collect sediment and benthic invertebrates (Annex A1). This standard is not meant to provide detailed guidance for all aspects of sediment assessments, such as chemical analyses or monitoring, geophysical characterization, or extractable phase and fractionation analyses. However, some of this information might have applications for some of these activities. A variety of methods are reviewed in this guide. A statement on the consensus approach then follows this review of the methods. This consensus approach has been included in order to foster consistency among studies. It is anticipated that recommended methods and this guide will be updated routinely to reflect progress in our understanding of sediments and how to best study them. This version of the standard is based primarily on a document developed by USEPA (2001 (1))2 and by Environment Canada (1994 (2)) as well as an earlier version of this standard.

    1.2 Protecting sediment quality is an important part of restoring and maintaining the biological integrity of our natural resources as well as protecting aquatic life, wildlife, and human health. Sediment is an integral component of aquatic ecosystems, providing habitat, feeding, spawning, and rearing areas for many aquatic organisms (MacDonald and Ingersoll 2002 a, b (3)(4)). Sediment also serves as a reservoir for contaminants in sediment and therefore a potential source of contaminants to the water column, organisms, and ultimately human consumers of those organisms. These contaminants can arise from a number of sources, including municipal and industrial discharges, urban and agricultural runoff, atmospheric deposition, and port operations.

    1.3 Contaminated sediment can cause lethal and sublethal effects in benthic (sediment-dwelling) and other sediment-associated organisms. In addition, natural and human disturbances can release contaminants to the overlying water, where pelagic (water column) organisms can be exposed. Sediment-associated contaminants can reduce or eliminate species of recreational, commercial, or ecological importance, either through direct effects or by affecting the food supply that sustainable populations require. Furthermore, some contaminants in sediment can bioaccumulate through the food chain and pose health risks to wildlife and human consumers even when sediment-dwelling organisms are not themselves impacted (Test Method E1706).

    1.4 There are several regulatory guidance documents concerned with sediment collection and characterization procedures that might be important for individuals performing federal or state agency-related work. Discussion of some of the principles and current thoughts on these approaches can be found in Dickson, et al. Ingersoll et al. (1997 (5)), and Wenning and Ingersoll (2002 (6)).

    1.5 This guide is arranged as follows:





    Referenced Documents




    Summary of Guide


    Significance and Use






    Safety Hazards


    Sediment Monitoring and Assessment Plans


    Collection of Whole Sediment Samples


    Field Sample Processing, Transport, and Storage of Sediments


    Sample Manipulations


    Collection of Interstitial Water


    Physico-chemical Characterization of Sediment Samples


    Quality Assurance






    Description of Samplers Used to Collect Sediment or Benthic Invertebrates

    Annex A1

    1.6 Field-collected sediments might contain potentially toxic materials and should thus be treated with caution to minimize occupational exposure to workers. Worker safety must also be considered when working with spiked sediments containing various organic, inorganic, or radiolabeled contaminants, or some combination thereof. Careful consideration should be given to those chemicals that might biodegrade, volatilize, oxidize, or photolyze during the exposure.

    1.7 The values stated in either SI or inch-pound units are to be regarded as the standard. The values given in parentheses are for information only.

    1.8 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory requirements prior to use. Specific hazards statements are given in Section 8.

    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    D1067 Test Methods for Acidity or Alkalinity of Water

    D1126 Test Method for Hardness in Water

    D1129 Terminology Relating to Water

    D1426 Test Methods for Ammonia Nitrogen In Water

    D3976 Practice for Preparation of Sediment Samples for Chemical Analysis

    D4387 Guide for Selecting Grab Sampling Devices for Collecting Benthic Macroinvertebrates

    D4822 Guide for Selection of Methods of Particle Size Analysis of Fluvial Sediments (Manual Methods)

    D4823 Guide for Core Sampling Submerged, Unconsolidated Sediments

    E729 Guide for Conducting Acute Toxicity Tests on Test Materials with Fishes, Macroinvertebrates, and Amphibians

    E943 Terminology Relating to Biological Effects and Environmental Fate

    E1241 Guide for Conducting Early Life-Stage Toxicity Tests with Fishes

    E1367 Test Method for Measuring the Toxicity of Sediment-Associated Contaminants with Estuarine and Marine Invertebrates

    E1525 Guide for Designing Biological Tests with Sediments

    E1611 Guide for Conducting Sediment Toxicity Tests with Polychaetous Annelids

    E1688 Guide for Determination of the Bioaccumulation of Sediment-Associated Contaminants by Benthic Invertebrates

    E1706 Test Method for Measuring the Toxicity of Sediment-Associated Contaminants with Freshwater Invertebrates

    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 13.060.45 (Examination of water in general)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code 77101500(Environmental impact assessment)

    Referencing This Standard
    Link Here
    Link to Active (This link will always route to the current Active version of the standard.)

    DOI: 10.1520/E1391-03R14

    Citation Format

    ASTM E1391-03(2014), Standard Guide for Collection, Storage, Characterization, and Manipulation of Sediments for Toxicological Testing and for Selection of Samplers Used to Collect Benthic Invertebrates, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2014, www.astm.org

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