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Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Sediments (ARCS) Program

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CONTENTS

[ABSTRACT]
[SUBJECT TERMS]

PREFACE

PART I: INTRODUCTION
Background
Objectives

PART II: APPROACH
Levels of Biological Organization
Literature Search

PART III: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Bioaccumulation Potential
Contaminant-Specific Biological Effects
Generic Bioassessment Techniques for
   Freshwater Sediments
Bioassay Test Organisms for Evaluating
   Freshwater Sediment
Institutional Bioassessment Techniques for
   Freshwater Sediments

PART IV: SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

REFERENCES

APPENDIX A: BIBLIOGRAPHY OF CONTAMINANT-SPECIFIC FRESHWATER SEDIMENT BIOASSESSMENT TECHNIQUES

SUBJECT TERMS

Bioassessment methodologies
Biochemical response parameters
Biological effect
Chronic sublethal effects
Contaminants
Organismic response parameters
Sediment
Tiered-testing protocol
Toxicity

Review and Synthesis of Bioassessment Methodologies for Freshwater Contaminated Sediments

Dillon, Tom M., and Gibson, Alfreda B. 1990. Abstract, Summary and Table of Contents to "Review and Synthesis of Bioassessment Methodologies for Freshwater Contaminated Sediments," Miscellaneous Paper EL-90-2, US Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Miss.

by

Tom M. Dillon, Alfreda B. Gibson
Environmental Laboratory

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
Waterways Experiment Station
Corps of Engineers
3909 Halls Ferry Road
Vicksburg, Mississippi 39180-6199

January 1990
Final Report

Approved for Public Release; Distribution Unlimited

Prepared for US Environmental Protection Agency
Great Lakes National Program Office
230 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, Illinois 60604

 

Abstract

This report presents the results of a review of various bioassessment methods for evaluating the biological effects of in-place contaminated sediments. Promising methodologies are identified with a particular emphasis on those tests which have been developed to the point where incorporation into regulatory programs is feasible. A generic tiered-testing protocol to guide the conduct of these tests is presented.

Preface

Section 118(c)(3) of The Water Quality Act of 1987 authorized the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) to coordinate and conduct a 5-year study and demonstration project relating to the control and removal of toxic substances in the Great Lakes with emphasis on removal of contaminants associated with in-place bottom sediments. This project is called the Assessment and Remediation of Contaminated Sediments (ARCS) program.

Because the US Army Corps of Engineers has expertise in dredging and management of contaminated sediments, the Corps was asked to be involved in the ARCS program. Participation was formalized at the national level via a memorandum agreement between the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and the EPA Assistant Administrator for Water (28 Jan 1989) and at the local level via an interagency agreement between the US Army Engineer (USAE) Division, North Central (NCD) and GLNPO (22 Sep 1988). The USAE Waterways Experiment Station (WES) provided technical guidance to NCD.

This report represents the first published technical guidance from WES to NCD as part of the ARCS program. It is a review and compilation of methods used to determine the potential adverse impact of contaminated bottom sediments on aquatic biota. This information was designed to provide initial guidance for developing methods to assess the biological effects of in-place contaminated sediments.

The review was carried out at the Environmental Laboratory (EL) of WES, Vicksburg, MS, from November 1988 to March 1989 by Dr. Tom M. Dillon and Ms. Alfreda B. Gibson of the Ecosystem Research and Simulation Division (ERSD), EL. The work was performed under the general supervision of Dr. Lloyd H. Saunders, Group Leader, Contaminant Mobility and Regulatory Criteria Group. The Chief of ERSD was Mr. Donald Robey and Chief of EL was Dr. John Harrison.

COL Larry B. Fulton, EN, was Commander and Director of WES. Technical Director was Dr. Robert W. Whalin.

This report should be cited as follows:

Dillon, Tom M., and Gibson, Alfreda B. 1990. "Review and Synthesis of Bioassessment Methodologies for Freshwater Contaminated Sediments," Miscellaneous Paper EL-90-2, US Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS.

Review and Synthesis of Bioassessment Methodologies for Freshwater Contaminated Sediments

PART I: INTRODUCTION

Background

  1. Section 118(c)(3) of The Water Quality Act of 1987 directs the Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) of the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to conduct a study of techniques for the evaluation, control, and removal of contaminated bottom sediments. Field demonstrations of these techniques will be conducted at the five priority Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC); Ashtabula River, Ohio, Buffalo River, New York, Grand Calumet River, Indiana, Saginaw Bay, Michigan, and Sheboygan Harbor, Wisconsin.
  2. A necessary first step in this process is the identification of methods for assessing the potential biological impact of in-place contaminated bottom sediments. A number of evaluation procedures have been proposed and/or developed by industry, academia, and state and Federal governments. These techniques vary greatly depending on the stage of development, level of biological organization, logistical requirements, and ability to interpret pertinent ecology. Prudent use of Section 118 program resources suggests that well-developed, proven techniques should be considered in designing and implementing a program.

Objectives

  1. This report is a review and synthesis of bioassessment techniques that have been used by others for evaluating the potential biological impacts of contaminated bottom sediments. Promising methodologies are identified and a generic tiered-testing protocol is developed.
PART IV: SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

30. Review of the bioassessment methodologies for freshwater contaminated sediments results in the following conclusions:

  1. a. The bioassessment literature for freshwater sediment is dominated by investigations that evaluate contaminant bioaccumulation ant not the biological effects of contaminated sediments.
  2. The majority of investigations that evaluate biological effects have focused on specific contaminants or groups of contaminants.
  3. The chemical-by-chemical approach utilized in many of these bioassessment techniques cannot account for three important phenomena:
    1. Contaminant-contaminant interactions (e.g., synergism).
    2. Variations in contaminant activity (e.g., bioavailability).
    3. Chemically undetected toxic substances (e.g., dioxin).
  4. Several institutional programs with diverse mission responsibilities (ASTM, IJC, USEPA, USACE) are using or considering very similar bioassessment techniques for the evaluation of contaminated freshwater sediments. These similarities strongly suggest that a technical consensus exists in the scientific community regarding appropriate bioassessment techniques. These similarities can be summarized as follows:
    1. Tiered testing represents a logical, technically sound approach for evaluating contaminated sediments.
    2. Sensitive test species, especially cladocerans such as Daphnia magna, should be used in the initial biological screening tiers.
    3. Chronic or sublethal testing should include an evaluation of impacts on growth and reproductive success.
    4. Recommended test species for evaluating chronic or sublethal impacts are the midge, Chironomus tentans, and the amphipod, Hyalella azteca.
    5. The fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas, may be used to evaluate bioaccumulation potential. However, fish, as well as most aquatic animals, can metabolize polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Therefore, parent compounds may not be easily detected in tissues.
    6. Bioassessments should emphasize solid phase sediment bioassays unless there is a reason to believe that water column organisms will be seriously impacted.

31. The following protocol is recommended for tiered-testing bioassessment.

  1. Tier I. Initial evaluation of existing data.
  2. Tier II. Chemical analysis of sediment.
    • Bioaccumulation potential: Calculation of equilibrium tissue concentrations of neutral organics relative to sediment concentrations.
    • Biological effects: Screening bioassays.
  3. Tier III. Bioaccumulation potential: Empirical determination during laboratory exposures.
    • Biological effects: Short-term solid phase toxicity tests.
  4. Tier IV. Bioaccumulation potential: Steady-state determination and important factors affecting uptake.

Biological Effects: Chronic or sublethal solid phase tests and important factors affecting toxicity.

 


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