In situ activated carbon (AC) amendment is a new direction in contaminated sediment management, yet its effectiveness and safety have never been tested on the level of entire food chains including fish. Here we tested the effects of three different AC treatments on hydrophobic organic chemical (HOC) concentrations in pore water, benthic invertebrates, zooplankton, and fish (Leuciscus idus melanotus). AC treatments were mixing with powdered AC (PAC), mixing with granular AC (GAC), and addition–removal of GAC (sediment stripping). The AC treatments resulted in a significant decrease in HOC concentrations in pore water, benthic invertebrates, zooplankton, macrophytes, and fish. In 6 months, PAC treatment caused a reduction of accumulation of polychlorobiphenyls (PCB) in fish by a factor of 20, bringing pollutant levels below toxic thresholds. All AC treatments supported growth of fish, but growth was inhibited in the PAC treatment, which was likely explained by reduced nutrient concentrations, resulting in lower zooplankton (i.e., food) densities for the fish. PAC treatment may be advised for sites where immediate ecosystem protection is required. GAC treatment may be equally effective in the longer term and may be adequate for vulnerable ecosystems where longer-term protection suffices.
- polycyclic aromatic-hydrocarbons
- polychlorinated-biphenyls pcbs
- contaminated sediments
- sorbent amendment