Sediment Toxicity Testing


EnviroScience biologists have extensive experience with culturing and examining many different species of freshwater, saltwater, and sediment organisms. Our toxicologists can customize study plans to meet numerous requirements for specialty projects meeting the needs of each individual client. Contact our Bioassay Laboratory using the form below or call us at 800.940.4025 to find out how EnviroScience can tailor special toxicity testing to meet your unique needs.

Sediment Toxicity Testing

Aquatic sediments at the bottom of lakes, streams, and rivers can act as sinks for chemical compounds such as nutrients, metals, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Sediments from many streams and rivers have received high concentrations of chemical contaminants, which present unacceptable risks to humans and aquatic biota over time.

Many aquatic organisms are benthic (bottom-dwelling), meaning that they dwell in or on top of the sediments and therefore come in direct contact with contaminants bound in the substrate. Whole sediment toxicity testing can be used as a tool to predict whether sediments will have adverse effects on benthic biota.

Whole sediment testing utilizes the sediment-dwelling organisms, Chironomus dilutus and Hyalella azteca, to establish sediment quality from areas of ecological concern. These test organisms are exposed to field-collected sediments in the laboratory under controlled conditions. Artificial sediment is used as a laboratory control, thereby creating a standard against which test quality and test organism response can be compared.

The behavior of the organisms, including sediment avoidance and mortality, is monitored on a daily basis (USEPA 2000). In order to measure toxicity, a specific biological endpoint (e.g., mortality, reduction in growth) is used to assess the response of the organisms to contaminants in the sediments. Whole sediment testing integrates the effects of all sediment contaminants and any synergistic, additive, or antagonistic interactions that occur between them.

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    Few environmental firms in the country retain EnviroScience’s degree of scientific know-how, talent, and capability under one roof. The diverse backgrounds of our biologists, environmental engineers, scientists, and divers enable us to provide comprehensive in-house services and an integrated approach to solving environmental challenges—saving clients time, reducing costs, and ensuring high-quality results.

    Our client guarantee is to provide “Excellence in Any Environment,” meaning no matter what we do, we will deliver on our Core Values of respect, client advocacy, quality work, accountability, teamwork, and safety. EnviroScience was created with the concept that we could solve complex problems by empowering great people. This concept still holds true today as our scientists explore the latest environmental legislation and regulations and incorporate the most up-to-date technology to gather and report data.

    EnviroScience expertise includes but is not limited to aquatic surveys (including macroinvertebrate surveys and biological assessments); ecological restoration; ecological services (including impact assessments, invasive species control, and water quality monitoring); emergency response; engineering and compliance services; endangered mussel surveys; laboratory and analysis; stormwater management; threatened and endangered species; and wetlands and streams (including delineation and mitigation). Further, EnviroScience is one of the few biological firms in the country that is a general member of the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI) and offers full-service commercial diving services.