Acute Toxicity of Estuarine Wetland Sediments Contaminated by Petroleum Academic Article uri icon


  • A study evaluating sediment toxicity in an estuarine marshland near Houston, Texas, was conducted following a major petroleum pipeline rupture during a flood event. Acute sediment toxicity was measured by performing the Microtox bioassay 100% Test on elutriates from wet sediment samples collected from experimental plots in the study area. Samples were collected over a seven-month period following the spill. Toxic responses were examined for spatial and temporal relationships within the cove and compared to total extractable materials (TEM), total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH), and GC-MS quantified total saturates and aromatics and target polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Sediment toxicity was elevated near the mouth of the study cove and decreased rapidly with time. Acute toxicity was correlated with TPH and GC-MS quantified saturate concentrations. However, toxicity levels were not correlated with TEM or GC-MS aromatic summations and target PAHs. The rapid decrease in sediment toxicity corresponded with a rapid decrease in oil levels suggesting that the intrinsic recovery of the site was due to acclimated populations of hydrocarbon-degrading microrganisms. 1999 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

published proceedings

  • Environmental Technology

author list (cited authors)

  • Mueller, D. C., Bonner, J. S., McDonald, S. J., & Autenrieth, R. L.

citation count

  • 12

complete list of authors

  • Mueller, DC||Bonner, JS||McDonald, SJ||Autenrieth, RL

publication date

  • August 1999