Relationships between sediment toxicity and sediment chemistry were evaluated for 98 samples collected from seven metropolitan study areas across the United States. Sediment-toxicity tests were conducted with the
amphipod Hyalella azteca (28 day exposures) and with the midge Chironomus dilutus (10 day exposures). Overall, 33 % of the samples were toxic to amphipods and 12 % of the samples were toxic to midge based on comparisons with reference conditions within each study area. Significant
correlations were observed between toxicity end points and sediment concentrations of trace elements, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), or organochlorine (OC) pesticides; however, these correlations were typically weak, and contaminant concentrations were usually below sediment-toxicity thresholds. Concentrations of the pyrethroid bifenthrin exceeded an estimated threshold of 0.49 ng/g (at 1 % total organic carbon) in 14 % of the samples. Of the samples that exceeded this bifenthrin toxicity threshold, 79 % were toxic
to amphipods compared with 25 % toxicity for the samples below this threshold. Application of mean probable effect concentration quotients (PECQs) based on measures of groups of contaminants (trace elements, total PAHs, total PCBs,OCpesticides, and pyrethroid pesticides [bifenthrin in
particular]) improved the correct classification of samples as toxic or not toxic to amphipods compared with measures of individual groups of contaminants. Sediments are a repository for many contaminants released
into surface waters. Because of this, organisms inhabiting sediments may be exposed to a wide range of contaminants (United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) United States Environmental Protection Agency 2000; American Society for Testing and Materials [ASTM] American Society for Testing and Materials International 2012). Contaminants of potential concern in sediments typically include trace elements (metals), organochlorine (OC) pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs; Ingersoll et al. 2001). In 2000, the USEPA began to restrict the use of organophosphate pesticides, such as diazinon and chlorpyrifos (Spurlock and Lee 2008). These restrictions have
led to increased use of pyrethroid pesticides, which have widespread applications in both agricultural and urban environments (Kuivila et al. 2012).
Pyrethroids are hydrophobic compounds that have been observed to accumulate in sediments (Laskowski 2002). Toxicity of pyrethroids in field-collected sediment from small urban streams (Weston et al. 2005; Holmes et al. 2008; Ding et al. 2010; Domagalski et al. 2010) or with pyrethroids spiked into sediment (Amweg et al. 2006; Hintzen et al. 2009) have been evaluated primarily in 10 day lethality tests conducted with the amphipod Hyalella azteca. However, the sublethal effects in long-term exposures to pyrethroids in sediment have not been evaluated, and the distribution of pyrethroids sediments has not typically been evaluated in wadeable streams (Gilliom et al. 2006). This article is the second in a series that describe the results of a study of the distribution and toxicity of pyrethroids and other co-occurring trace elements and organic contaminants (PCBs, PAHs, OC pesticides) in stream sediments from 7 metropolitan areas across the United States (Moran et al. 2012). The study evaluated 98 sediment samples collected from streams ranging from undeveloped to highly urban and differs from previous studies by sampling larger wadeable streams and avoiding point sources (such as storm drains) and other inflows (Gilliom et al. 2006). Part 1 of the series characterizes sediment contaminants in relation to urbanization and other factors in the 7 metropolitan study areas (Nowell et al. 2012). Part 2 (this article) evaluates relationships between sediment chemistry and sediment toxicity in 28 day whole-sediment exposures conducted with the amphipod H. azteca and in 10 day whole-sediment exposure conducted with the midge Chironomus dilutus (USEPA United States Environmental Protection Agency 2000; ASTM American Society for Testing and Materials International 2012). Toxicity end points evaluated in the amphipod and midge exposures included the effects of these field-collected sediments on survival, weight, or biomass of the test organisms.