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01-07-2003 | Environmental Assessment | Issue 1/2003

Environmental Management 1/2003

Applications of Numerical Sediment Quality Targets for Assessing Sediment Quality Conditions in a US Great Lakes Area of Concern

Journal:
Environmental Management > Issue 1/2003
Authors:
Judy L. Crane, Donald D. MacDonald

Abstract

Contaminated sediments are receiving increasing recognition around the world, leading to the development of various sediment quality indicators for assessment, management, remediation, and restoration efforts. Sediment chemistry represents an important indicator of ecosystem health, with the concentrations of contaminants of potential concern (COPCs) providing measurable characteristics for this indicator. The St. Louis River Area of Concern (AOC), located in the western arm of Lake Superior, provides a case study for how numerical sediment quality targets (SQTs) for the protection of sediment-dwelling organisms can be used to support the interpretation of sediment chemistry data. Two types of SQTs have been established for 33 COPCs in the St. Louis River AOC. The Level I SQTs define the concentrations of contaminants below which sediment toxicity is unlikely to occur, whereas the Level II SQTs represent the concentrations that, if exceeded, are likely to be associated with sediment toxicity. The numerical SQTs provide useful tools for making sediment management decisions, especially when considered as part of a weight-of-evidence approach that includes other sediment quality indicators, such as sediment contaminant chemistry and geochemical characteristics, sediment toxicity, and benthic macroinvertebrate community structure. The recommended applications of using the numerical SQTs in the St. Louis River AOC include: designing monitoring programs, interpreting sediment chemistry data, conducting ecological risk assessments, and developing site-specific sediment quality remediation targets for small, simple sites where adverse biological effects are likely. Other jurisdictions may benefit from using these recommended applications in their own sediment quality programs.

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