Sediment Toxicity of Industrialized Coastal Areas of Korea Using Bioluminescent Marine Bacteria

  • Choi, Min-Kyu (Marine Environment Research Division, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI)) ;
  • Kim, Seong-Gil (Marine Environment Research Division, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI)) ;
  • Yoon, Sang-Pil (Coastal Wetland Research Institute, NFRDI) ;
  • Jung, Rae-Hong (Coastal Wetland Research Institute, NFRDI) ;
  • Moon, Hyo-Bang (Department of Environmental Marine Sciences, College of Science and Technology, Hanyang University) ;
  • Yu, Jun (Marine Environment Impact Assessment Center, NFRDI) ;
  • Choi, Hee-Gu (Marine Environment Research Division, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI))
  • Received : 2010.07.05
  • Accepted : 2010.09.10
  • Published : 2010.09.30


The quality of marine sediments from the industrialized coastal areas of Korea (Ulsan Bay, Masan Bay, and artificial Lake Shihwa) was investigated using a bacterial bioluminescence toxicity test. Sediment toxicity results were compared with the levels of chemical contamination (trace metals, organic wastewater markers, acid volatile sulfides, total organic carbon). Effective concentration 50% (EC50) of sediments ranged from 0.014 to 1.126 mg/mL, which is comparable to or lower than values in contaminated lakes, rivers, and marine sediments of other countries. Sediment reference index (SRI) ranged from 13 to 1044, based on the EC50 of the negative control sample. Mean average SRI values in Masan Bay and Lake Shihwa were approximately 8 and 9 times as high as that in Ulsan Bay, indicating higher sediment toxicity and greater contamination in the two former regions. Sediment toxicity were strongly associated with the concentrations of some chemicals, suggesting that this test may be useful for determining potential chemical contamination in sediments.


Supported by : National Fisheries Research and Development Institute(NFRDI)


  1. Abbondanzi F, Cachada A, Campisi T, Guerra R, Raccagni M and Iacondini A. 2003. Optimisation of a microbial bioassay for contaminated soil monitoring: bacterial inoculums standardization and comparison with microtox assay. Chemosphere 53, 889-897.
  2. Beg MU, Al-Muzaini S, Saeed T, Jacob PG, Beg KR, Al-Bahloul M, Al-Matrouk K, Al-Obaid T and Kurian A. 2001. Chemical contamination and toxicity of sediment from a coastal area receiving industrial effluents in Kuwait. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 41, 289-297.
  3. Bettinetti R and Provini A. 2002. Toxicity of 4-nonylphenol to Tubifex tubifex and Chironomus ripariu in 28-day whole-sediment tests. Ecotoxicol Environ Safe 53, 113-121.
  4. Bombardier M and Bermingham N. 1999. SED-TOX index: toxicity-direct management toool to assess and rank sediments based on hteir hazard-concept and appli-cation. Environ Toxicol Chem 18, 685-698.
  5. Burton GA, Baudo R, Beltrami M and Rowland C. 2001. Assessing sediment contamination using six toxicity assays. J Limnol 60, 263-267.
  6. Choi M, Moon HB, Yu J, Kim SS, Pait AS and Choi HG. 2009. Nationwide monitoring of nonylphenolic com-pounds and coprostanol in sediments from Korean coastal waters. Mar Pollut Bull 58, 1086-1092.
  7. Como S, Magni P, Casu D, Floris A, Giordani G, Natale S, Fenzi GA, Signa G and Falco GD. 2007. Sediment characteristics and macrofauna distribution along a human-modified inlet in the Gulf of Oristano (Sardinia, Italy). Mar Pollut Bull 54, 733-744.
  8. Diez S, Jover E, Albaiges J and Bayona JM. 2006. Occurrence and degradation of butyltins and wastewater marker compounds in sediments from Barcelona harbor, Spain. Environ Int 32, 858-865.
  9. Guerra R. 2001. Ecotoxicological and chemical evaluation of phenolic compounds in industrial effluents. Chemosphere 44, 1737-1747.
  10. Hong SH, Yim UH, Shim WJ, Li DH, Oh JR. 2005. Nationwide monitoring of polychlorinated biphenyls and organochlorine pesticides in sediments from coastal environment of Korea. Chemosphere 64, 1479-1488.
  11. Hyland J, Balthis L, Karakassis I, Magni P, Petrob A, Shine J, Vestergaard O and Warwick R. 2005. Organic carbon content of sediments as an indicator of stress in the marine benthos. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 295, 91-103.
  12. Kavanagh RJ, Balch GC, Kiparissis Y, Niimi AJ, Sherry J, Tinson C and Metcalfe CD. 2004. Endocrine disruption and altered development in white perch (Morone Americana) from the lower Great Lakes Region. Environ Health Persp 112, 898-902.
  13. Kemble NE, Hardesty DG, Ingersoll CG, Johnson BT, Dwyer FJ and MacDonald DD. 2000. An evaluation of the toxicity of contaminated sediments from Waukegan Harbor, Illinois, Following Remediation. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 39, 452-461.
  14. Kim Y, Lee M, Choi K, Eo S and Lee H. 2004. Assessment of Korean water quality standards for effluent discharaged from the dye industry based on acute aquatic toxicity tests using microbes and macro-invertebrates. Kor J Environ Health 30, 185-190 (In Korean).
  15. Koh CH, Khim JS, Villeneuve DL, Kannan K and Giesy JP. 2006. Characterization of trace organic contaminants in marine sediment from Yeongil Bay, Korea: 1. Instrumental analysis. Environ Pollut 142, 39-47.
  16. Lee S and Bae H. 2005. Comparison of marine luminescence bacteria and genetically modified luminescence E. coli. for acute toxicity of heavy metals. Kor Soc Environ Engineers 27, 900-906 (In Korean).
  17. Li D, Kim M, Oh JR and Park J. 2004. Distribution characteristics of nonylphenols in the artificial Lake Shihwa, and surrounding creeks in Korea. Chemo-sphere 56, 783-790.
  18. Li D, Shim WJ, Dong M and Hong SH. 2007. Application of nonylphenol and coprostanol to identification of industrial and fecal pollution in Korea. Mar Pollut Bull 54, 97-116.
  19. Long ER, Robertson A, Wolfe DA, Hameedi J and Sloane GM. 1996. Estimates of the spatial extent of sediment toxicity in major U.S. estuaries. Environ Sci Technol 30, 3585-3592.
  20. Long ER, Dutch M, Aasen S, Welch K, Hameedi J, Magoon S, Carr RS, Johnson T, Biedenbach J, Scott KJ, Mueller C and Anderson JW. 2002. Sediment Quality in Puget Sound - Year 3 Southern Puget Sound. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS CCMA No. 153, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, MD.
  21. Macken A, Giltrap M, Foley B, MaGovern E, McHug B and Davoren M. 2008. An integrated approach to the toxicity assessment of Irish marine sediments: Validation of established marine bioassays for the monitoring of Irish marine sediments. Environ Int 34, 1023-1032.
  22. Maenpaa K and Kukkonen JVK. 2006. Bioaccumulation and toxicity of 4-nonylphenol (4-NP) and 4-(2-dodecyl) .benzene sulfonate (LAS) in Lumbriculus variegates (Oligochaeta) and Chironomus riparius (Insecta). Aqua Toxicol 77, 329-338.
  23. Martinez-Llado X, Gibert O, Marti V, Diez S, Romo J, Bayona JM and Pablo JD. 2007. Distribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) and tributyltin (TBT) in Barcelona harbor sediments and their impact on benthic communities. Environ Pollut 149, 104-113.
  24. Mayer T, Bennie D, Rosa F, Rekas G, Palabrica V and Schachtschneider J. 2007. Occurrence of alkyl-phenolic substances in a Great Lakes coastal marsh, Cootes Paradise, ON, Canada. Environ Pollut 147, 683-690.
  25. MOMAF. 2005. Standard methods for marine environ-mental analysis. Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Seoul, Korea. 400 p.
  26. Moon HB, Kannan K, Lee SJ, Choi M. 2007. Poly-brominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in sediment and bivalves from Korean coastal waters. Chemosphere 66, 243-251.
  27. Moon HB, Yoon SP, Jung RH and Choi M. 2008. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) as a source of sediment contamination by toxic organic pollutants and fecal sterols in a semi-enclosed bay in Korea. Chemosphere 73, 880-889.
  28. Moon HB, Choi M, Choi HG, Ok G and Kannan K. 2009. Historical trends of PCDDs, PCDFs, dioxin-like PCBs and nonylphenols in dated sediment cores from a semi-enclosed bay in Korea: Tracking the sources. Chemosphere 75, 565-571.
  29. Mudge SM and Lintern DG. 1999. Comparison of sterol biomarkers for sewage with other measures in Bictoria Harbour, BC, Canada. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 48, 37-38.
  30. Nam JJ, Lee SH, Kwon SI, Hong SY, Lim DK, Koh MH and Song BH. 2004. Toxicity assessment of the soil by bioassay following a long-term application of sewage sludge. Kor J Environ Agricul 23, 258-263 (In Korean).
  31. Narracci M, Cavallo RA, Acquaviav MI, Prato E and Biandolino F. 2009. A test battery approach for ecotoxicological characterization of Mar Piccolo sediments in Taranto (Ionian Sea, Southern Italy). Environ Monit Assess 148, 307-314.
  32. Ocampo-Duque W, Sierra J, Ferre-Huguet N, Schuhmacher M and Domingo JL. 2008. Estimating the environ-mental impact of micro-pollutants in the low Ebro River (Spain): An approach based on screening toxicity with Vibrio fischeri. Chemosphere 72, 715-721.
  33. Park GS, Chung CS, Lee SH, Hong GH, Kim SH, Park SY, Yoon SJ and Lee SM. 2005. Ecotoxicological evaluation of sewage sludge using bioluminescent marine bacteria and rotifer. Ocean Sci J 40, 91-100.
  34. Park SJ, Kim S and Nam JJ. 2006. Microtox biological toxic assessment of soils treated with sewage sludge. J Kor Soc Environ Anal 9, 191-198 (In Korean).
  35. Pardos M, Benninghoff C, Thomas RL and Khim-Heang S. 1999. Confirmation of elemental sulfur toxicity in the Microtox assay during organic extracts assessment of freshwater sediments. Environ Toxicol Chem 18, 188-193.
  36. Parvez S, Venkataraman C and Mukherji S. 2006. A review on advantages of implementing luminescence inhibi-tion test (Vibrio fischeri) for acute toxicity prediction of chemicals. Environ Int 32, 265-268.
  37. Pearson TH and Rosenberg R. 1978. Macrobenthic succession in relation to organic enrichment and pollution of the marine environment. Ocean Mar. Biol: An Annual Review 16, 229-311.
  38. Salizzato M and Pavoni B. 1998. Sediment toxicity measured using Vibrio Fischeri as related to the concentrations of organic (PCBs, PAHs) and inorganic (metals, sulfur) pollutants. Chemosphere 36, 2949-2968.
  39. Soares A, Guieysse B, Jefferson B, Cartmell E and Lester JN. 2008. Nonylphenol in the environment: a critical review on occurrence, fate, toxicity and treatment in wastewaters. Environ Int 34, 1033-3272.
  40. US EPA. 2009a. Marine Sediment Screening Benchmarks. US Environmental Protection Agency. Available at (Accessed 10.10.2009).
  41. US EPA. 2009b. Freshwater Sediment Screening Bench-marks. US Environmental Protection Agency. Available at btag/sbv/fwsed/screenbench.htm (Accessed 10.10. 2009).
  42. Vigano L, Arillo A, Buffagni A, Camusso M, Ciannarella R, Crosa G, Falugi C, Galassi S, Guzzella L, Lepez A, Mingazzini M, Pagnotta R, Patrolecc L, Tartari G and Valsecchi S. 2003. Quality assessment of bed sediments of the Po River (Italy). Wat Res 37, 501-518.
  43. Wang F and Chapman PM. 1999. Biological implications of sulfide in sediment . A review focusing on sediment toxicity. Environ Toxicol Chem 18, 2526-2532.
  44. Yoon SP, Jung RH, Kim YJ, Kim SG, Choi M, Lee WC, Oh HT and Hong SJ. 2009. Macrobenthic com-munity structure along the environmental gradients of Ulsan Bay, Korea. J Kor Soc Oceanogr 14, 102-117 (In Korean).
  45. Zulkosky AM, Ferguson PL and McElroy AE. 2002. Effects of sewage-impacted sediment on reproduction in the benthic crustacean Leptocheirus plumulosus. Mar Environ Res 54, 615-619.

Cited by

  1. Relationship of the Clearance Rate and Nonylphenol Uptake Rate of Three Bivalve Species with Different Size Classes and Temperatures vol.18, pp.2, 2013,