A comparison of the bioaccumulation potential of three freshwater organisims exposed to sediment-associated contaminants under laboratory conditions

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Van Geest, Jordana L.
Poirier, David G.
Solomon, Keith R.
Sibley, Paul K.

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Society Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry


In the field of sediment quality assessment, increased support has been expressed for using multiple species that represent different taxa, trophic levels, and potential routes of exposure. However, few studies have compared the bioaccumulation potential of various test species over a range of sediment contaminants (hydrophobic organics and metals). As part of the development and standardization of a laboratory bioaccumulation method for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the oligochaete Lumbriculus variegatus, mayfly nymph Hexagenia spp., and juvenile fathead minnow Pimephales promelas were exposed to a variety of fieldcontaminated sediments (n¼10) to evaluate their relative effectiveness for accumulating different contaminants (e.g., dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane[DDT] and metabolites, polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans [PCDD/Fs), and heavy metals). Bioaccumulation was usually highest in L. variegatus but also most variable within and (relative measures) between sediments. Bioaccumulation was similar between L. variegatus and Hexagenia spp. in most of the sediments tested. Significant differences in bioaccumulation between species were observed for DDT, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethane (DDD), PAHs, and PCDD/Fs. The present study indicates that species-specific differences in bioaccumulation may, but do not always, exist and can vary with contaminant and sediment type. The choice of test species or combination to use in a standard test method may depend on the objectives of the sediment quality assessment and data requirements of an ecological risk assessment. The results of the present study provide insight for selection of test species and validation of laboratory methods for assessing bioaccumulation with these species, as well as valuable information for interpreting results of bioaccumulation tests.



bioaccumulation, contaminated sediment, species comparison, freshwater organisms


Van Geest, J. L., Poirier, D. G., Solomon, K. R., and Sibley, P. K. "A comparison of the bioaccumulation potential of three freshwater organisms exposed to sediment-associated contaminants under laboratory conditions." Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 30.4 (2011): 939-949. https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.456.