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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2013 Nov;32(11):2482-94. doi: 10.1002/etc.2272. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

Preparation and characterization of nickel-spiked freshwater sediments for toxicity tests: toward more environmentally realistic nickel partitioning.

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  • 1US Geological Survey, Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, Missouri, USA.


Two spiking methods were compared and nickel (Ni) partitioning was evaluated during a series of toxicity tests with 8 different freshwater sediments having a range of physicochemical characteristics. A 2-step spiking approach with immediate pH adjustment by addition of NaOH at a 2:1 molar ratio to the spiked Ni was effective in producing consistent pH and other chemical characteristics across a range of Ni spiking levels. When Ni was spiked into sediment having a high acid-volatile sulfide and organic matter content, a total equilibration period of at least 10 wk was needed to stabilize Ni partitioning. However, highest spiking levels evidently exceeded sediment binding capacities; therefore, a 7-d equilibration in toxicity test chambers and 8 volume-additions/d of aerobic overlying water were used to avoid unrealistic Ni partitioning during toxicity testing. The 7-d pretest equilibration allowed excess spiked Ni and other ions from pH adjustment to diffuse from sediment porewater and promoted development of an environmentally relevant, 0.5- to 1-cm oxic/suboxic sediment layer in the test chambers. Among the 8 different spiked sediments, the logarithm of sediment/porewater distribution coefficient values (log Kd ) for Ni during the toxicity tests ranged from 3.5 to 4.5. These Kd values closely match the range of values reported for various field Ni-contaminated sediments, indicating that testing conditions with our spiked sediments were environmentally realistic.

© 2013 SETAC.


Acid-volatile sulfide; Distribution coefficient; Nickel; Spiked sediment; Toxicity testing

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