Sediment Quality Assessment Tools

To quantify the direct effects of sediment contamination on sediment-dwelling biological communities, as well as on humans via food web transfer, SCCWRP and its partners have developed quantitative scoring tools for assessing sediment quality. Unlike traditional sediment evaluations that rely on best professional judgement to interpret data and results, assessment frameworks offer a systematic approach to synthesize and interpret the findings of multiple types of sediment quality studies.

Benthic Assessments

To quantify the direct effects of sediment contamination on sediment-dwelling biological communities, SCCWRP and its partners have developed a multiple-lines-of-evidence approach for evaluating how benthic communities are impacted by sediment contamination at a given site. This approach is supported by the following tools:

  • RIVPACS Benthic Index Calculator Tool – Online benthic index calculator tool based on the River Invertebrate Prediction and Classification System (RIVPACS) to support sediment quality assessment under California’s Sediment Quality Objectives (SQO) program.
  • Chemical List – List of the chemicals required for application of the CA LRM and CSI sediment quality guidelines.
  • Direct Effects Assessment Sample Calculation – Document describing the calculations needed to interpret the chemistry, toxicity, and benthic infauna data using the sediment quality assessment tools. The calculations are illustrated using a sample data set.
  • Benthic Index Calculation Methods for California Embayments – A description of the steps and calculations needed to apply four benthic indices. The steps include data collection, calculating scores for each benthic index, comparing the benthic index scores to threshold values, and integrating the individual index results to determine the benthic community condition classification.
  • Species List of Embayment Macrofauna – List of benthic macroinvertebrate species found in California embayments including their taxonomy, pollution tolerance scores, and notes for use in benthic index calculations.
  • Data and program files for calculating RIVPACS index scores using SAS – Program, habitat characteristics, and sample data files needed for calculation of the RIVPACS benthic index. User must have SAS software to run the program. Instructions for use provided in “Benthic Index Calculation Methods for California Embayments”.
  • LOE Relationship Table – This table displays combinations of the three lines of evidence (toxicity, chemistry, and benthic community) and the sequence of their integration into a single multiple lines of evidence assessment.
  • MLOE Assessment Categories Table – A listing of the site assessment categories resulting from each of the 64 possible combinations of the chemistry, toxicity, and benthic community lines of evidence. The list is sorted by chemistry category.
  • Data Integration Tool v5.7 – An Excel workbook that contains formulas for combining MLOE data to produce a station assessment.
  • List of updates made to the Data Integration Tool
  • Final Technical Support Manual – Document that provides instructions for measuring sediment quality parameters, data integration, and interpretation.
  • SCAMIT Taxonomic List 5th Edition – A taxonomic listing of macro- and megainvertebrates from infaunal and epibenthic monitoring programs in the Southern California Bight.

Human Health Assessments

Evaluating the effects of sediment contamination on wildlife and humans requires weighing two main variables: understanding whether the contaminants in fish and other foods consumed by wildlife and humans pose a health risk, and understanding the degree to which sediment contamination at a given site contributes to the contaminants found in foods consumed by wildlife and humans. SCCWRP and its partners have built bioaccumulation models that explain how contaminants are transferred through food webs, consumption risk models that estimate the health risks of eating contaminated seafood, and site linkage models that estimate the role of sediment contamination vs. other pollutant sources in contributing to seafood contamination. This approach is supported by the following tools:

  • Online Assessment Tool – An interactive web tool that allows users to upload data and conduct a Tier 2 sediment quality assessment. October 2019.
  • Decision Support Tool User Guide – This guide contains information for conducting Tier 2 analysis using the Decision Support Tool. July 2017.
  • Decision Support Tool – An Excel workbook that can be used to analyze sediment and tissue data for a Tier 2 assessment. February 2020.
  • YASAI User Manual – Document describing the YASAI add-in functions and features. July 2017.
  • YASAI Add-In – This file contains an Excel add-in designed to conduct a Monte Carlo simulation for use in the Decision Support Tool (DST). This add-in must be installed in Excel before using the DST. July 2017.