Article

Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 337-350

Chromium Geochemistry and Bioaccumulation in Sediments from the Lower Hackensack River, New Jersey

  • L. MartelloAffiliated withENVIRON International Corporation Email author 
  • , P. FuchsmanAffiliated withENVIRON International Corporation
  • , M. SorensenAffiliated withENVIRON International Corporation
  • , V. MagarAffiliated withENVIRON International Corporation
  • , R. J. WenningAffiliated withENVIRON International Corporation

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Abstract

Total and hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] were measured in sediment and sediment porewater in the lower Hackensack River (NJ) to assess the relationship between sediment geochemistry and chromium speciation, which in turn controls the mobility, bioavailability, and toxicity of chromium. Between 2003 and 2005, >100 surface (0 to 15 cm) sediment samples were tested for total chromium and Cr(VI), acid-volatile sulfides (AVS), ferrous iron (Fe(II)), divalent manganese (Mn(II)), ammonia, and organic carbon. Sediment porewater samples were collected by centrifugation or using in situ samplers colocated with the collection of sediments. In whole sediments, total chromium and Cr(VI) concentrations ranged from 5 to 9190 mg/kg dry weight (dw) and from <0.47 to 31 mg/kg dw, respectively. Sediment porewater concentrations ranged from <10 to 83 µg/l for total chromium; Cr(VI) was not detected in sediment porewater (n = 78). Concentrations of AVS (ranging between <10.6 to 4178 mg/kg) and other geochemistry measurements indicated anoxic, reducing conditions in the majority of sediment samples. In polychaetes (Nereis virens) and clams (Macoma nasuta) exposed in the laboratory for 28 days to sediments contained between 135 and 1780 mg/kg dw total chromium, concentrations in whole tissues after 24-hour depuration ranged between 1.2 and 14.8 mg/kg wet weight (ww; median 1.6 mg/kg ww) total chromium. In whole tissues of indigenous polychaetes collected from the sediment, tissue concentrations of total chromium ranged between 1.0 and 37.5 mg/kg ww (median = 2.1 mg/kg ww). Chromium concentrations in whole tissues of animals exposed in the field or in the laboratory showed no relationship with total chromium or Cr(VI) concentrations in the sediment. There were no statistical differences among animals exposed to sediments from site and reference locations. The results of this study are consistent with sediment studies conducted elsewhere indicating low chromium bioavailability in sediment under reducing conditions. This study also highlights the importance of sediment geochemistry and in situ porewater measurements to understand the ecological significance of chromium in sediment and the potential for human health and ecological exposures.