Spiking organic chemicals onto sediments for ecotoxicological analyses: an overview of methods and procedures

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2022 May;29(21):31002-31024. doi: 10.1007/s11356-022-18987-5. Epub 2022 Feb 3.


Laboratory testing with spiked sediments with organic contaminants is a valuable tool for ecotoxicologists to study specific processes such as effects of known concentrations of toxicants, interactions of the toxicants with sediment and biota, and uptake kinetics. Since spiking of the sediment may be performed by using different strategies, a plethora of procedures was proposed in the literature for spiking organic chemicals onto sediments to perform ecotoxicological analyses. In this paper, we reviewed the scientific literature intending to characterise the kind of substrates that were used for spiking (i.e. artificial or field-collected sediment), how the substrates were handled before spiking and amended with the organic chemical, how the spiked sediment was mixed to allow the homogenisation of the chemical on the substrate and finally how long the spiked sediment was allowed to equilibrate before testing. What emerged from this review is that the choice of the test species, the testing procedures and the physicochemical properties of the organic contaminant are the primary driving factors affecting the selection of substrate type, sediment handling procedures, solvent carrier and mixing method. Finally, we provide recommendations concerning storage and characterization of the substrate, equilibrium times and verification of both equilibration and homogeneity.

Keywords: Bioaccumulation; Ecotoxicology; Labelling; Organic chemicals; Sediment; Spiking; Toxicity testing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ecotoxicology
  • Geologic Sediments* / chemistry
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis


  • Organic Chemicals
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical