Calculation and uses of mean sediment quality guideline quotients: a critical review.

ERL Environmental, 3691 Cole Road South, Salem, Oregon 97306, USA.
Environmental Science and Technology (Impact Factor: 5.48). 04/2006; 40(6):1726-36. DOI: 10.1021/es058012d
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Fine-grained sediments contaminated with complex mixtures of organic and inorganic chemical contaminants can be toxic in laboratory tests and/or cause adverse impacts to resident benthic communities. Effects-based, sediment quality guidelines (SQGs) have been developed over the past 20 years to aid in the interpretation of the relationships between chemical contamination and measures of adverse biological effects. Mean sediment quality guideline quotients (mSQGQ) can be calculated by dividing the concentrations of chemicals in sediments by their respective SQGs and calculating the mean of the quotients for the individual chemicals. The resulting index provides a method of accounting for both the presence and the concentrations of multiple chemicals in sediments relative to their effects-based guidelines. Analyses of considerable amounts of data demonstrated that both the incidence and magnitude of toxicity in laboratory tests and the incidence of impairment to benthic communities increases incrementally with increasing mSQGQs. Such concentration/response relationships provide a basis for estimating toxicological risks to sediment-dwelling organisms associated with exposure to contaminated sediments with a known degree of accuracy. This sediment quality assessment tool has been used in numerous surveys and studies since 1994. Nevertheless, mean SQGQs have some important limitations and underlying assumptions that should be understood by sediment quality assessors. This paper provides an overview of the derivation methods and some of the principal advantages, assumptions, and limitations in the use of this sediment assessmenttool. Ideally, mean SQGQs should be included with other measures including results of toxicity tests and benthic community surveys to provide a weight of evidence when assessing the relative quality of contaminated sediments.

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