The influence of the oxygen regime in the water column on the toxicity of Hamilton Harbour sediment

Krantzberg, Gail
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Ontario Ministry of the Environment

Sediment from regions within Hamilton Harbour is highly contaminated with metals, nevertheless, not all metal contaminated sites were toxic to test organisms. Most sediment did elicit sublethal and/or lethal responses in bioassay organisms. Metal bioavailability, as measured by weak acid extractions, metal bioaccumulation by fathead minnows and sediment toxicity was greater in sediment collected in the fall as compared to sediment collected in the spring. Results of analyses of tissue residues in test organisms and the reduced toxicity observed in sediment collected from some stations in the spring as compared to the fall, implicate trace metals and sediment oxygen demand as contributing to sediment toxicity. The suitability for colonization by benthic invertebrates of sediment in some areas of Hamilton Harbour appears to be limited by both contaminants and high sediment oxygen demand. Remedial options aimed at improving the oxygen regime of the harbour should result in improvements in the benthic invertebrate community directly, by providing a suitable oxygen regime for organisms less tolerant of temporal anoxia, and indirectly by decreasing metal bioavailability, possibly through the coprecipitation of trace metals with iron and manganese hydroxides.

Ontario Ministry of the Environment
Other O.M.E. Environmental Reports
sediment, oxygen, chronic sublethal toxicity test, sediment characterization, sediment bioassay, metals, bioavailability, bioaccumulation, contaminants