Date: 06 Nov 2012

Contaminants in Stream Sediments From Seven United States Metropolitan Areas: Part II—Sediment Toxicity to the Amphipod Hyalella azteca and the Midge Chironomus dilutus


Relationships between sediment toxicity and sediment chemistry were evaluated for 98 samples collected from seven metropolitan study areas across the United States. Sediment-toxicity tests were conducted with the amphipod Hyalella azteca (28 day exposures) and with the midge Chironomus dilutus (10 day exposures). Overall, 33 % of the samples were toxic to amphipods and 12 % of the samples were toxic to midge based on comparisons with reference conditions within each study area. Significant correlations were observed between toxicity end points and sediment concentrations of trace elements, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), or organochlorine (OC) pesticides; however, these correlations were typically weak, and contaminant concentrations were usually below sediment-toxicity thresholds. Concentrations of the pyrethroid bifenthrin exceeded an estimated threshold of 0.49 ng/g (at 1 % total organic carbon) in 14 % of the samples. Of the samples that exceeded this bifenthrin toxicity threshold, 79 % were toxic to amphipods compared with 25 % toxicity for the samples below this threshold. Application of mean probable effect concentration quotients (PECQs) based on measures of groups of contaminants (trace elements, total PAHs, total PCBs, OC pesticides, and pyrethroid pesticides [bifenthrin in particular]) improved the correct classification of samples as toxic or not toxic to amphipods compared with measures of individual groups of contaminants.