The aim of the current research is to establish a suitable Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) scheme for Danube sediments in Hungary by determining contaminants' concentrations by chemical analysis and by assessing their ecotoxicological effects. Seventeen sedimentation sites were identified, mainly upstream of Budapest, between river kilometres 1811 and 1586. The heavy metal contents and basic properties of sediments were determined. Excess heavy metal content was used to characterize the extent of heavy metal contamination. Direct contact biotests were developed for testing the toxic effect of contaminated sediments. Ecotoxicological effects were measured by three bacterial tests and one plant bioassay. Effect Concentrations were determined by the inhibition of the bioluminescence of Photobacterium phosphoreum. The resultant inhibition of different partial toxic effects was characterized by Cu equivalent. Chemical and ecotoxicological results were studied together, making it possible to characterize the extent of the pollution and its biological effects at the same time. It was concluded that combined chemical and ecotoxicological characterization of contaminated sediments may serve as a strong basis for assessing the site-specific risk of heavy metal pollution.

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