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Canadian Sediment Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life

The Canadian Sediment quality guidelines were developed by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment as broadly protective tools to support the functioning of healthy aquatic ecosystems (CCME, 2001). They are based on field research programmes that have demonstrated associations between chemicals and biological effects by establishing cause and effect relationships in particular organisms.

Comparison of measured concentrations of various contaminants within the sediments with these guideline values will, therefore, provide a basic indication on the degree of contamination and likely impact on ecology.

The guidelines consist of threshold effect levels (TELs) and probable effect levels (PELs). The TELs and PELs are used to identify the following three ranges of chemical concentrations with regard to biological effects. It is likely that the TELs will be adopted as the ISQGs (CCME, 2001):

  • Below the TEL; the minimal effect range within which adverse effects rarely occur.
  • Between the TEL and PEL; the possible effect range within which adverse effects occasionally occur.
  • Above the PEL; the probable effect range within which adverse effects frequently occur.

The table below lists the existing sediment quality guidelines for some of the parameters that have been monitored. This shows the interim marine sediment quality guidelines (ISQGs)/threshold effect levels (TELs), probable effect levels (PELs)(dry weights) and incidence (%) of adverse biological effects in concentration ranges defined by these values.

Substance

Units

ISQG/TEL

PEL

Incidence
(%£ISQG)

Incidence
(ISQG<%<PEL)

Incidence
(%³PEL)

Metals

Arsenic

mg.kg-1

7.24

41.6

3

13

47

Cadmium

mg.kg-1

0.7

4.2

6

20

71

Chromium

mg.kg-1

52.3

160

4

15

53

Copper

mg.kg-1

18.7

108

9

22

56

Lead

mg.kg-1

30.2

112

6

26

58

Mercury

mg.kg-1

0.13

0.7

8

24

37

Zinc

mg.kg-1

124

271

4

27

65

Polychlorinated byphenyls (PCB)

PCBs: total PCBs

mg.kg-1

21.5

189

16

37

55

Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)

Acenaphthene

µg.kg-1

6.71

88.9

8

29

57

Acenaphthylene

µg.kg-1

5.87

128

7

14

51

Anthracene

µg.kg-1

46.9

245

9

20

75

Benz(a)anthracene

µg.kg-1

74.8

693

9

16

78

Benzo(a)pyrene

µg.kg-1

88.8

763

8

22

71

Chrysene

µg.kg-1

108

846

9

19

72

Dibenz(a,h)anthracene

µg.kg-1

6.22

135

16

12

65

Fluoranthene

µg.kg-1

113

1494

10

20

80

Fluorene

µg.kg-1

21.2

144

12

20

70

2-Methylnaphthalene

µg.kg-1

20.2

201

0

23

82

Naphthalene

µg.kg-1

34.6

391

3

19

71

Phenanthrene

µg.kg-1

86.7

544

8

23

78

Pyrene

mg.kg-1

153

1398

7

19

83

                       

 

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