Biological test method: sublethal toxicity tests to assess sediments intended for disposal at sea
Environmental Protection Series 1/RM/40, fourth edition
Note: This edition supersedes the original created in 1998 and other editions published in 2001 and 2006.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) created this document to provide a consolidation of acceptable reference methods for performing sublethal tests for the assessment of marine or estuarine sediments or land-based excavated materials proposed for disposal at sea. The test methods assembled in this document and provided below have been developed and standardized to enable their use in a regulatory context specifically for disposal at sea assessments. Each method referenced is a complete method that can be used independently from the next. You can obtain full copies of the methods from ECCC at the address provided below.
This edition references 3 complete sublethal toxicity testing methods with an annex added, which includes 2 additional sublethal test methods that with advice from ECCC, may be useful in rare situations requiring:
- the assessment of substances proposed for disposal at sea where elutriate or leachate testing may provide a representative estimate of toxicity, or
- where nutrient contamination is a particular concern.
Each standard reference method provides a description of the test and of the species that can be used. The methods also outline the following:
- procedures for holding test species in the laboratory and preparing them for the testing phase
- conditions and procedures for testing sediments
- instructions for:
- test facilities
- handling and storing samples
- preparing test solutions and initiating test
- specific test conditions
- appropriate observations and measurements
- endpoints and methods of calculations
- validation of the test.
These 5 standard biological test methods can be used to help fulfil regulatory testing requirements for the characterization of a substance proposed for disposal at sea. These methods can also support other non-regulatory assessment of substances, and sediments in particular. When using this document to support the characterization of sediments proposed for disposal or placement at sea, it is recommended that you consult in advance with your nearest Disposal at Sea Program office for advice. Where not included within the methods, pass/fail criteria to be applied to disposal at sea characterizations can also be obtained by contacting your nearest Disposal at Sea Program office.
These methods can change from time to time. Any changes to these methods will result in a new edition of this summary document which is published on the Canadian Environmental Protection Act Registry.
The 5 test methods are:
- Part 1: Biological Test Method: Reference Method for Determining the Toxicity of Sediment Using Luminescent Bacteria in a Solid-Phase Test, EPS 1/RM/42
(PDF 1.27 MB)
- Part 2: Biological Test Method: Test for Survival and Growth in Sediment Using Spionid Polychaete Worms (Polydora cornuta), EPS 1/RM/41
(PDF 2.79 MB)
- This test is considered to have failed if the mean dry weight observed in the organisms exposed to the test sediment is more than 25% lower than that observed in the organisms exposed to the reference sediment and is statistically significant (p<0.05).
- Part 3: Reference Method for Measuring the Toxicity of Contaminated Sediment to Embryos and Larvae of Echinoids (Sea Urchins or Sand Dollars), 1/RM/58
(PDF 858 kB)
- Annex A: Biological Test Method: Toxicity Test Using Luminescent Bacteria, EPS 1/RM/24
(PDF 1.66 MB)
- Annex B: Biological Test Method: Fertilization Assay Using Echinoids (Sea Urchins and Sand Dollars) EPS 1/RM/27
(PDF 793 kB)
Disposal at Sea Program
Environmental Stewardship Branch
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 Saint-Joseph Blvd
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3
This report has been reviewed by the staff of the Disposal at Sea Program, ECCC and any comments regarding the content can be addressed to them. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement by Environment and Climate Change Canada for use. Other products of similar value are available.
Report a problem or mistake on this page
- Date modified: