The rate of lake sediment pollution is a function of the input of pollutant and adsorbent, the areal hydraulic loading of the lake, the settling velocity of the adsorbent, the distribution between aqueous and solid phase and the release from the sediments. Early diagenetic processes cause a redistribution and new partitioning in the sediments. The ecotoxicological risks and the water quality impacts of the pollutants in water and sediment are closely related to this partitioning. The magnitude and duration of the impacts of a historical pollution period are further related to the intensity of bioturbation and to wave induced turbulence. Some quantitative relationships, field data and simulations support the discussion of the underlying principles.