Assessment of supercritical fluid extraction use in whole sediment toxicity identification evaluations.

Research paper by Robert M RM Burgess, Steven B SB Hawthorne, Monique M MM Perron, Mark G MG Cantwell, Carol B CB Grabanski, David J DJ Miller, Kay T KT Ho, Marguerite A MA Pelletier

Indexed on: 05 Jan '11Published on: 05 Jan '11Published in: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry


Supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) with pure CO(2) was assessed as a confirmatory tool in phase III of whole sediment toxicity identification evaluations (TIEs). The SFE procedure was assessed on two reference sediments and three contaminated sediments by using a combination of toxicological and chemical measurements to quantify effectiveness. Sediment toxicity pre- and post-SFE treatment was quantified with a marine amphipod (Ampelisca abdita) and mysid (Americamysis bahia), and nonionic organic contaminants (NOCs) polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were measured in sediments, overlying waters, and interstitial waters. In general, use of SFE with the reference sediments was successful, with survival averaging 91% in post-SFE treatments. Substantial toxicity reductions and contaminant removal from sediments and water samples generated from extracted sediments of up to 99% in two of the contaminated sediments demonstrated SFE effectiveness. Furthermore, toxicological responses for these SFE-treated sediments showed comparable results to those from the same sediments treated with the powdered coconut charcoal addition manipulation. These data demonstrated the utility of SFE in phase III of a whole sediment TIE. Conversely, in one of the contaminated sediments, the SFE treatments had no effect on sediment toxicity, whereas sediment concentrations of PCBs and PAHs were reduced. We propose that, for some sediments, the SFE treatment may result in the release of otherwise nonbioavailable cationic metals that subsequently cause toxicity to test organisms. Overall, SFE treatment was found to be effective for reducing the toxicity and concentrations of NOCs in some contaminated sediments. However, these studies suggest that SFE treatment may enhance toxicity with some sediments, indicating that care must be taken when applying SFE and interpreting the results.