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Mar Pollut Bull. 2002 May;44(5):359-66.

Pore water testing and analysis: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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  • 1EVS Environment Consultants, North Vancouver, BC, Canada.


The increasingly common practice of collecting and assessing sediment pore water as a primary measure of sediment quality is reviewed. Good features of this practice include: pore water is a key exposure route for some organisms associated with sediments; pore water testing eliminates particle size effects; pore water analyses and tests can provide useful information regarding contamination and pollution. Bad features include: pore water is not the only exposure route; pore water tests lack chemical or biological realism: their "sensitivity" relative to other tests may be meaningless due to manipulation and laboratory artifacts; many sediment and surface dwelling organisms are not directly influenced by pore water. Bad features can become ugly if: other exposure pathways are not considered (for toxicity or bioaccumulation); manipulation techniques are not appropriate; pore water tests are inappropriately linked to population-level effects. Pore water testing and analyses can be effective tools provided their limitations are well understood by researchers and managers.

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