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Interpretative Tool for the Assessment of Metal Enrichment in Florida Freshwater Sediment


Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been involved with assessment of sediment quality data for two decades. Unlike surface and ground water, no federal or state standards apply to sediments. In the absence of standards, Florida has produced guidance documents to assist scientists and managers interpret sediment quality data.

The 1988 Guide to the Interpretation of Metal Concentrations in Estuarine Sediments and 1994 Development and Evaluation of Sediment Quality Assessment Guidelines were designed to address marine and estuarine sediments, and were used broadly throughout the state. When asked if they could be used in freshwater environments, scientists felt they could due to similar geological conditions, and from observed biological responses to contaminants in other jurisdictions. There always had to be caution added to any use of these tools outside their intended environs. The best answer was to produce tools for use in fresh water environments using freshwater sediments for the geochemical normalization tool and look at responses from freshwater animals for the Sediment Quality Assessment Guidelines (biological effects) tool.

The following tools are appropriate for lakes, streams, and springs of Florida. Development of an Interpretive Tool for Assessment of Metal Enrichment in Florida Freshwater Sediment, (Carvalho, et. al. 2002) describes the reference element normalization approach for fresh water environments, similar to what was developed for marine waters. An added feature is that iron can be used as a normalizer in addition to aluminum. Interactive Excel spreadsheets are available in either an Excel 97 or 2000 format for use with your data to quickly determine whether concentrations of metals are elevated. 

Development of an Interpretive Tool for Assessment of Metal Enrichment in Florida Freshwater Sediment (1541 KB)

The following is an interactive spreadsheet for the freshwater metals tool.  It must be saved onto to your own PC prior to use.

Last updated: September 21, 2011

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