The ecological risks of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in aquatic sediments will vary with both toxicity and bioavailability to aquatic biota. While there are standardized protocols to test the acute toxicity of sediment-borne compounds to aquatic invertebrates, there are none for assessing bioavailability to fish. We found that sediment-borne PAH caused an exposure-dependent induction of cytochrome P450 (CYP1A) enzymes in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) fingerlings exposed in semi-static 96 h bioassays, as shown by increased activity of ethoxyresorufin-o-deethylase (EROD). Assuming that PAH are taken up by trout due to partitioning from organic and inorganic constituents of sediments, we tested the effect of different test variables on bioaccumulation using induction as an index of exposure. EROD activity increased with exposure of fish to increasing volumes of sediments containing PAH, i.e., with increasing ratios of sediment to water. Uptake of single compounds from sandy sediments did not differ from uptake from clay or low organic (7% LOI — loss on ignition) sediments, but decreased when organic content was very high (58% LOI). Maximum induction was observed within 24~h of exposure and at 7.5^C relative to 15, 22, or 28^C. Storage and handling techniques had minor effects on sediment EROD induction potency. Absolute EROD activity was greater in white sucker (Catostomus commersoni) a benthic species, than in trout, a pelagic species. However, when basal (negative control) activity was accounted for, there was no difference in response between the species. Together, these experiments provide a basis for developing a standard protocol to test the bioavailability to fish of sediment-borne PAH.
Sediment collection of lakes was done using a Eckman or Peterson dredge and purchased fish were held in tanks at QUBS and experimented on