Bioavailability of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in field-contaminated anacostia river (Washington, DC) sediment

Xiaoxia Lu, Danny D. Reible, John W. Fleeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Sediment-water partitioning behavior and bioavailability of five polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs; phenanthrene, pyrene, chrysene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, and benzo[a]pyrene) were measured in field-contaminated sediment collected from moderately polluted regions of the Anacostia River (Washington, DC, USA). Much of the sediment PAH burden was resistant to desorption: Effective partition coefficients were 2- to 10-fold greater than expected from literature values, and more than 80% of PAHs remained sorbed after treatment of the sediment with a nonionic polymeric adsorbent (Amberlite XAD-2) for 20 h. Bioaccumulation, elimination, and assimilation of each PAH in the deposit-feeding tubificid oligochaete Ilyodrilus templetoni were measured and compared with the equivalent measurements from laboratory-inoculated sediment. Ilyodrilus templetoni effectively accessed the desorption-resistant fraction of these organic contaminants, as exhibited by high single-gut passage assimilation efficiencies (ASEs) of the five PAHs (60% < ASE < 90%). However, steady-state accumulations of PAHs by I. templetoni were very low and consistent with low pore-water concentrations. The present results suggest that steady-state accumulation of PAHs is controlled by pore-water concentrations and is not necessarily related to route of uptake or assimilation efficiencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2869-2874
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Bioavailability
  • Biota-sediment accumulation factor
  • Desorption resistant
  • Oligochaete worm


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