Bioavailability of Organic Contaminants in Estuarine Sediments to Microbes and Benthic Animals

EPA Grant Number: R825303
Title: Bioavailability of Organic Contaminants in Estuarine Sediments to Microbes and Benthic Animals
Investigators: Taghon, Gary L. , Kosson, David S. , Young, Lily Y.
Current Investigators: Taghon, Gary L. , Kosson, David S. , Rockne, Karl J. , Shor, Leslie M.
Institution: Rutgers University - New Brunswick
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: October 1, 1996 through September 30, 1999
Project Amount: $496,239
RFA: DOE/EPA/NSF/ONR Joint Program on Bioremediation (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Land and Waste Management


The purpose of this project is to determine the bioavailability of sediment-associated organic contaminants to microbes and benthic animals. Bioavailability can be defined as the flux of contaminants to the biota. If the flux is below the minimum required by the organism for uptake or utilization, then the contaminant would be considered not bioavailable under the conditions examined. Understanding and quantifying the relationship between the physical and chemical characteristics of sediments and fluxes of contaminants to microbial and animal communities is essential for prudent risk-based decision making. The objectives are to: (1) compare the abiotic flux and bioavailability to bacteria and polychaetes of contaminants from whole sediments and sediment fractions; (2) determine the effects of contaminant aging on flux and bioavailability; (3) compare accumulation of contaminants by polychaetes in the laboratory studies to levels in animals from the field; and (4) mathematically model bioavailability of contaminants to bacteria and polychaetes based on contaminant flux under abiotic and biotic conditions. The sediment for this study will come from the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary, an area impacted by municipal and industrial discharges and petroleum hydrocarbons from the local refineries and loading facilities. Whole sediment will be fractionated by particle size and specific gravity. Hexadecane and hopane/pristane will be model aliphatic hydrocarbons and naphthalene and benzo[a]pyrene will be model PAHs used in the study. Capitella is the model polychaete and their fecal pellets will be compared to the whole and fractionated sediments. Microbial activity will be evaluated as a function of the sediment fractions and of electron acceptors (O2, SO42-, CO32-). Capitella uptake experiments will also be a function of the range of sediment fractions and contaminants. Results from these investigations will be used in development of a mathematical model that will provide quantitative description of contaminant bioavailability in the impacted estuarine environments. This can also be used to evaluate contaminant risk.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 26 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 9 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

watersheds, exposure, indicators, environmental biology, zoology, modeling., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Waste, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Water & Watershed, Ecology, Bioavailability, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, exploratory research environmental biology, Chemical Mixtures - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Contaminated Sediments, Chemistry, State, Environmental Microbiology, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Biochemistry, Ecological Effects - Human Health, Bioremediation, Biology, Watersheds, Ecological Indicators, fate and transport, risk assessment, microbiology, risk-based decisions, contaminant transport, contaminated sites, benthic animals, contaminated sediment, aquifer sediments, chemical transport, kinetic studies, New Jersey (NJ), microbes, risk analysis, bioremediation of soils, contaminants in soil, mixed organic contaminants, soil characterization, aquatic ecosystems, contaminant release, contaminated aquifers, sediments, exposure assessment

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997
  • 1998
  • Final Report