Sediment Biotesting in the Baltic Sea

The Contest Project

image of Sediment Biotesting in the Baltic Sea

Sediments contaminated by human activities usually contain a mixture of chemicals that produce unforeseen combined toxic effects in organisms. Thus, traditional risk assessments based on the concentrations of chemicals are unlikely to produce realistic data on toxicity. In the CONTEST project, 19 biotests were evaluated using a model contaminated sediment from the Baltic Sea. Most of the biotests applied showed concentration-dependent toxicity related to the degree of chemical pollution measured in the test sediment with some variability in the sensitivity of the test organism and the endpoint. The different biotests were analysed according to specially designed assessment criteria, and the results are foreseen to be useful for end-user groups including environmental authorities, private companies and industries, environmental laboratories, consultants, and the scientific community.




Ecotoxicological testing methods using selected species or cell lines grown in the laboratory over several generations are called biotests (Mothersill and Austin, 2003). Under carefully standardised conditions, the test systems are exposed for a defined period of time to the test medium, which can be different concentrations or dilutions of single chemicals, mixtures of chemicals, water collected from a field study site, whole sediments, or sediment pore water extracts and elutriates. The most relevant international standardized protocols for biotests include guidelines for testing of chemicals of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and those provided by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).


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