Development and evaluation of sediment quality guidelines for Florida coastal waters
- Cite this article as:
- Macdonald, D.D., Carr, R.S., Calder, F.D. et al. Ecotoxicology (1996) 5: 253. doi:10.1007/BF00118995
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The weight-of-evidence approach to the development of sediment quality guidelines (SQGs) was modified to support the derivation of biological effects-based SQGs for Florida coastal waters. Numerical SQGs were derived for 34 substances, including nine trace metals, 13 individual polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), three groups of PAHs, total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), seven pesticides and one phthalate ester. For each substance, a threshold effects level (TEL) and a probable effects level (PEL) was calculated. These two values defined three ranges of chemical concentrations, including those that were (1) rarely, (2) occasionally or (3) frequently associated with adverse effects. The SQGs were then evaluated to determine their degree of agreement with other guidelines (an indicator of comparability) and the percent incidence of adverse effects within each concentration range (an indicator of reliability). The guidelines also were used to classify (using a dichotomous system: toxic, with one or more exceedances of the PELs or non-toxic, with no exceedances of the TELs) sediment samples collected from various locations in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. The accuracy of these predictions was then evaluated using the results of the biological tests that were performed on the same sediment samples. The resultant SQGs were demonstrated to provide practical, reliable and predictive tools for assessing sediment quality in Florida and elsewhere in the southeastern portion of the United States.