Ecology’s New Freshwater Sediment Criteria

Sediment Sampling

The Washington State Department of Ecology has released Revised Sediment Management Standards that will become effective in September 2013. Differences from the existing Marine Sediment Criteria include:

  • Shorter list of compounds
  • Criteria are based on dry weight rather than organic carbon normalized
  • Total DDT (pesticide) and its degradation products are included. The compounds included in the totals are different from those used for marine sediment and soil criteria.
  • Criteria for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are based on totals rather than individual compounds. The compounds included in the totals are different from those used for marine sediment and soil criteria.
  • Total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) criteria have been established. Additional sample extraction and cleanup or alternative laboratory methods may be required to remove false positive results from naturally occurring organic matter.

Laboratory detection limits must be lower than criteria and, for non-detected results, both the method detection limit and the practical quantitation limit must be reported.

Ecology may require toxicity testing in the following instances where criteria may not predict sediment impacts:

  • Sediment with unusual geochemical or biochemical characteristics influencing toxicity (release or bioavailability of contaminants) including total organic carbon in environments such as bogs and alpine wetlands.
  • Sediment with pore water or overlying water that has unusual geochemical or biochemical characteristics influencing toxicity (release or bioavailability of contaminants) including pH or hardness.
  • Sediment impacted by metals mining, metals milling, or metals smelting.
  • Sediment impacted by other toxic, radioactive, biological, or deleterious substances.

More information is on the Ecology website.

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