John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Observations of limited secondary effects to benthic invertebrates and macrophytes with activated carbon amendment in river sediments

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Amendment of activated carbon to sediments has been shown to effectively reduce the bioavailability of hydrophobic organic contaminants, but concerns have been raised about the potential toxicological impacts of administering a strong sorbent into sediments. The present study provides a summary of several investigations carried out as part of a pilot‐scale study in a river to understand the secondary effects of activated carbon added to reduce the bioavailability of sediment‐associated polychlorinated biphenyls. While some previous laboratory amendment studies have found reduced lipid content in freshwater worms exposed to activated carbon‐treated sediments, the authors did not observe an impact with fine‐granular activated carbon‐amended sediments aged in the field. Benthic community studies did not find differences between control and activated carbon‐treated field sites over 3 yr of postapplication monitoring. Laboratory studies with submerged aquatic plants indicated reduced growth in sediments amended with ≥5% activated carbon, which was attributed to volume dilution of nutritional sediment or bulk density changes and was also observed when the sediment was amended with biochar and inert perlite. Since in situ sorbent amendment is likely to be implemented in depositional sediment environments, potential negative impacts will likely be short‐term if the treated site is slowly covered with new sediment over time. Overall suitability of activated carbon amendment for a site will depend on balancing ecosystem and human health benefits from contaminant bioavailability reduction with any potential negative impacts expected under field conditions. Environ Toxicol Chem 2013;32:XX–XX. © 2013 SETAC

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