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Chemosphere. 2013 Nov;93(10):2499-506. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.08.100. Epub 2013 Sep 27.

Incorporating bioavailability into management limits for copper in sediments contaminated by antifouling paint used in aquaculture.

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Centre for Environmental Contaminants Research, CSIRO Land and Water, Locked Bag 2007, Kirrawee, NSW 2232, Australia. Electronic address:


Although now well embedded within many risk-based sediment quality guideline (SQG) frameworks, contaminant bioavailability is still often overlooked in assessment and management of contaminated sediments. To optimise management limits for metal contaminated sediments, we assess the appropriateness of a range methods for modifying SQGs based on bioavailability considerations. The impairment of reproduction of the amphipod, Melita plumulosa, and harpacticoid copepod, Nitocra spinipes, was assessed for sediments contaminated with copper from antifouling paint, located below aquaculture cages. The measurement of dilute acid-extractable copper (AE-Cu) was found to provide the most useful means for monitoring the risks posed by sediment copper and setting management limits. Acid-volatile sulfide was found to be ineffective as a SQG-modifying factor as these organisms live mostly at the more oxidised sediment water interface. SQGs normalised to %-silt/organic carbon were effective, but the benefits gained were too small to justify this approach. The effectiveness of SQGs based on AE-Cu was attributed to a small portion of the total copper being present in potentially bioavailable forms (typically<10% of the total). Much of the non-bioavailable form of copper was likely present as paint flakes in the form of copper (I) oxide, the active ingredient of the antifoulant formulation. While the concentrations of paint-associated copper are very high in some sediments, as the transformation of this form of copper to AE-Cu appears slow, monitoring and management limits should assess the more bioavailable AE-Cu forms, and further efforts be made to limit the release of paint particles into the environment.


Antifoulant; Chronic toxicity; Fish; Risk assessment; Sediment quality guidelines

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