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Tools and Methods for Contaminated Sediments Research

Sediment contamination can cause direct human exposure to chemicals, contamination of fish, and loss of economic and recreational opportunities. Researchers are developing advanced methods to assess contamination and predict and document the performance of multiple cleanup methods. These results will allow communities to better understand the differences in cleanup decisions and realistically plan for future development opportunities.

EPA scientists are:
  • developing a suite of innovative methods to improve the ability to predict chemical concentrations in fish, shellfish and birds (i.e., aquatic dependent wildlife) from exposure to contaminated sediments prior to and after cleanup;
  • improving laboratory testing of sediments to assess toxicity and bioaccumulation of chemicals at individual sites; and
  • providing biological, chemical and geophysical procedures to measure and document the effectiveness of sediment remediation.

Contributing research:

  • physical, chemical and biological methods to assess the performance of sediment cleanup methods
  • on-site and off-site methods to assess the amount of contaminants in sediments that can be absorbed by humans
  • improved models of how the chemicals stay in the food chain for prediction of long-term changes in fish contaminant concentrations
  • quicker and cheaper tools that detect changes in sediment toxicity