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Tampa Bay is a large, urban estuary that is located in west central Florida. Although water quality conditions represent an important concern in this estuary, information from numerous sources indicates that sediment contamination also has the potential to adversely affect aquatic organisms, aquatic-dependent wildlife, and human health. As such, protecting relatively uncontaminated areas of the bay from contamination and reducing the amount of toxic chemicals in contaminated sediments have been identified as high-priority sediment management objectives for Tampa Bay. To address concerns related to sediment contamination in the bay, an ecosystem-based framework for assessing and managing sediment quality conditions was developed that included identification of sediment quality issues and concerns, development of ecosystem goals and objectives, selection of ecosystem health indicators, establishment of metrics and targets for key indicators, and incorporation of key indicators, metrics, and targets into watershed management plans and decision-making processes. This paper describes the process that was used to select and evaluate numerical sediment quality targets (SQTs) for assessing and managing contaminated sediments. These SQTs included measures of sediment chemistry, whole-sediment and pore-water toxicity, and benthic invertebrate community structure. In addition, the paper describes how the SQTs were used to develop site-specific concentration-response models that describe how the frequency of adverse biological effects changes with increasing concentrations of chemicals of potential concern. Finally, a key application of the SQTs for defining sediment management areas is discussed.
Additional Publication Details
Development, Evaluation, and Application of Sediment Quality Targets for Assessing and Managing Contaminated Sediments in Tampa Bay, Florida
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology