This article reviews the methodological approaches currently used to assess the potential toxicity of aquatic sediments. In the past, the main use of in situ tests has been the field validation of results obtained by means of traditional methods (chemical analyses, inventory of the benthic communities, and laboratory toxicity testing). However, in situ techniques could also be used for a preliminary screening of sediment ecological risk assessment. At present, we suggest this approach for environments suspected to be contaminated, limiting the complex (and expensive) studies based on the traditional chemical analyses and laboratory toxicity testing to cases in which the necessity of a complete sediment risk assessment is already proved.

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