The volume of sediment required to perform a sediment toxicity bioassay is a major driver of the overall cost associated with that bioassay. Sediment volume affects bioassay cost because of sediment collection, transportation, storage, and disposal costs as well as labor costs associated with organism recovery at the conclusion of the exposure. The objective of the current study was to evaluate reduced sediment volume versions of the standard U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) 10-d acute Leptocheirus plumulosus method that uses a beaker size of 1,000 ml and 20 organisms. The test design used evaluated the effects of beaker size (250 and 100 ml) and associated sediment volume (75 and 30 ml, respectively) as well as organism loading density (10 and 20 organisms) on test endpoint responsiveness relative to the standard 10-d test method. These comparisons were completed with three different types of contaminated sediments: a field-collected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-contaminated sediment, a lead-spiked control sediment, and a control sediment spiked with mineral oil. Assessment criteria included test endpoint sensitivity, endpoint consistency, statistical power, water quality, and logistical assessments. Results indicate that the current U.S. EPA method is preferable to the reduced sediment volume methods we assessed, but that a 250-ml beaker/10 organism experimental design is of comparable utility and may be advantageous when reduced sediment volumes are desirable because of high contaminant (spiking studies) or sediment disposal costs. In addition, the results of the current study provide toxicity reference values for PAHs, lead, and an oil surrogate for petroleum hydrocarbons.
- Leptocheirus plumulosus
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
- Sediment volume
- Test method