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Understanding how animals are exposed to the large repository of metal pollutants in aquatic sediments is complicated and is important in regulatory decisions. Experiments with four types of invertebrates showed that feeding behavior and dietary uptake control bioaccumulation of cadmium, silver, nickel, and zinc. Metal concentrations in animal tissue correlated with metal concentrations extracted from sediments, but not with metal in porewater, across a range of reactive sulfide concentrations, from 0.5 to 30 micromoles per gram. These results contradict the notion that metal bioavailability in sediments is controlled by geochemical equilibration of metals between porewater and reactive sulfides, a proposed basis for regulatory criteria for metals.
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