The potential environmental hazard of sediment samples from Copenhagen Harbour was investigated by a combination of chemical analyses and biological tests. The chemical analyses comprised determination of the content of heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls, and the biological tests comprised whole sediment bioassays with the amphipod Corophium volutator, testing of a sediment suspension with the Microtox Solid Phase test, and testing of sediment pore water by the copepod Acartia tonsa and the alga Skeletonema costatum. For all sediment samples, the concentrations of contaminants exceeded the Probable Effect Levels and toxic effects should therefore be expected. However, various degrees of toxicity were determined by the biotests with the Microtox Solid Phase test system being the most sensitive, the amphipod and the copepod being intermediately sensitive, and no toxicity of the pore water was registered to the algae. Moreover, no direct correlation between the content of the contaminants in the sediment samples and the registered toxicity could be established. It is therefore concluded that the combination of biotesting and chemical analysis is a valuable tool for evaluating the environmental risks of sediments.

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