, Volume 111, Issue 1-3, pp 173-222

Spatial Extent Of Degraded Sediment Quality In Puget Sound (Washington State, U.S.A.) Based Upon Measures Of The Sediment Quality Triad

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A survey was designed and conducted to determine the severity, spatial patterns, and spatial extent of degraded sediment quality in Puget Sound (Washington State, USA). A weight of evidence compiled from results of chemical analyses, toxicity tests, and benthic infaunal analyses was used to classify the quality of sediments. Sediment samples were collected from 300 locations within a 2363 km2 area extending from the US/Canada border to the inlets of southern Puget Sound and Hood Canal. Degraded conditions, as indicated with a combination of high chemical concentrations, significant toxicity, and adversely altered benthos, occurred in samples that represented about 1% of the total area. These conditions invariably occurred in samples collected within urbanized bays and industrial waterways, especially near the urban centers of Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, and Bremerton. Sediments with high quality (as indicated by no toxicity, no contamination, and the presence of a relatively abundant and diverse infauna) occurred in samples that represented a majority (68%) of the total study area. Sediments in which results of the three kinds of analyses were not in agreement were classified as intermediate in quality and represented about 31% of the total area. Relative to many other estuaries and marine bays of the USA, Puget Sound sediments ranked among those with minimal evidence of toxicant-induced degradation.