Relative role of pore water versus ingested sediment in bioavailability of organic contaminants in marine sediments

Thomas T. Forres, Valery E. Forbes, Anders Giessing, Rikke Hansen, Liv K. Kure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Experimental data for fluoranthene and feeding selectivity in combination with reaction-diffusion modeling suggest that ingestion of contaminated sediment may often be the dominant uptake pathway for deposit- feeding invertebrates in sediments. A dietary absorption efficiency of 56% and accompanying forage ratio of 2.4 were measured using natural sediment that had been dual-labeled (14C:51Cr) with fluoranthene and fed to the marine deposit-feeding polychaete Capitella species I. Only 3 to 4% of the total absorption could be accounted for by desorption during gut passage. These data were then used as input into a reactiondiffusion model to calculate the importance of uptake from ingested sediment relative to pore- water exposure. The calculations predict a fluoranthene dietary uptake flux that is 20 to 30 times greater than that due to pore water. Factors that act t modify or control the formation of local chemical gradients, boundary layers, or dietary absorption rates including particle selection or burrow construction will be important in determining the relative importance of potential exposure pathways. From a chemical perspective, the kinetics of the adsorption and desorption process are especially important as they will strongly influence the boundary layer immediately surrounding burrowing animals or irrigated tubes. The most important biological factors likely include irrigation behavior and burrow density and size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2453-2462
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1998


  • Bioavaliability
  • Capitella species I
  • Deposit feeding invertebrates
  • Ingested sediment
  • Pore water


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