Sediment Quality Assessment in the Gulf of Gdańsk (Baltic Sea) Using Complementary Lines of Evidence
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Sediments from Polish coastal environments were classified by a quality assessment approach that took into account trace metal and organic micropollutant concentrations, grain-size distribution, and organic carbon content. Generally, no benthic organisms were found at sites where sediments were classified as heavily polluted. However, areas characterized by a moderate contamination showed a variable composition of the benthic community and changing bioaccumulation patterns; therefore, no single species found in the Gulf of Gdańsk could be considered representative of the whole benthic environment. Although sediment monitoring must be considered a suitable tool to detect hot-spot pollution areas in coastal and inland waters, it should be complemented by bioaccumulation measurements to evaluate the actual risk posed by contaminants to benthic organisms. This “biological information” allows a better appreciation of the real benthic infaunal community exposure to chemicals and can usefully complement the existing sediment quality guidelines.