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Environ Res. 2008 Mar;106(3):304-12. Epub 2007 Jul 9.

Toxicity bioassays in core sediments from the Bay of Santander, northern Spain.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering and Inorganic Chemistry, University of Cantabria, ETSII y T. Avda Los Castros s/n, 39005 Santander, Spain.


The use of Vibrio fischeri as luminescence bacteria is particularly effective in evaluating contaminated sediment. In this study, the ecotoxicity of five core sediments from the Bay of Santander, northern Spain, utilising V. fischeri as marine bacterium, was carried out. Different toxicity assay procedures were applied in order to study the influence of the mobility and bioavailability of the pollutants. Basic Solid Phase Test (BSPT) in whole sediment and acute toxicity test, using pore water and three leaching test procedures as liquid extracts, were applied. In addition, the study of the influence of the pH value on the toxicity results of the leaching tests was conducted. The obtained results show toxicity units (TU50) values in BSPT test ranging from 0.42 to 39.06 with a decrease with depth as general trend and TU50 values from 0.010 to 0.389 in the liquid extracts, where TU50 is calculated as the inverse of EC50 (%). The obtained data show the historical toxicity trends of the Bay of Santander and provides a technical database for the management of contaminated sediments. Moreover, these results showed evidence that each sediment test procedure provided independent and complementary ecotoxicological responses useful for a sediment classification. In order to analyse the correlations between chemical parameters (both organic and inorganic) and the toxicity results, the self-organising map (SOM) neural network and regression equations were applied. Satisfactory correlations (R=0.93) between chemical concentrations of sum of five heavy metals and 16 PAHs and BSPT toxicity were obtained.

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