Sediment Bioaccumulation Test with Lumbriculus variegatus: Effects of Organism Loading

Lawrence P. Burkhard, Dylan Hubin-Barrows, Nanditha Billa, Terry L. Highland, James R. Hockett, David R. Mount, Teresa J. Norberg-King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


At contaminated sediment sites, the bioavailability of contaminants in sediments is assessed using sediment-bioaccumulation tests with Lumbriculus variegates (Lv). The testing protocols recommend that ratio of total organic carbon (TOC) in sediment to L. variegatus (dry weight) (TOC/Lv) should be no less than 50:1. Occasionally, this recommendation is not followed, especially with sediments having low TOC, e.g., <1 %. This study evaluated the impacts and resulting biases in the testing results when the recommendation of “no less than 50:1” is not followed. In the study, seven sediments were tested with a series of TOC/Lv ratios that spanned the recommendation. With increasing loading of organisms, growth of the organisms decreased in six of the seven sediments tested. Residues of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the L. variegatus were measured in six of the seven sediments tested, and differences in PCB residues among loading ratios across all sediments were small, i.e., ±50 %, from those measured at the minimum recommended ratio of 50:1 TOC/Lv. In all sediment, PCB residues increased with increasing loading of the organisms for the mono-, di-, and tri-chloro-PCBs. For tetra-chloro and heavier PCBs, residues increased with increasing loading of organisms for only two of the six sediments. PCB residues were not significantly different between TOC/Lv loadings of 50:1 and mid-20:1 ratios indicating that equivalent results can be obtained with TOC/Lv ratios into the mid-20:1 ratios. Overall, the testing results suggest that when testing recommendation of 50:1 TOC/Lv is not followed, potential biases in the biota-sediment accumulations factors from the sediment-bioaccumulation test will be small.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-77
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


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