Environmental Residue-Effects Database

US Army Corps of Engineers ERDC Dredging Operations Technical Support


The ERED supports the USACE dredging mission

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has used bioaccumulation data to make regulatory decisions regarding the management of dredged sediment for over 40 years (USACE 1976). Early in the program it was decided by the USACE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) that regulatory decisions regarding what level of bioaccumulation is or is not acceptable must be based on data that link a given concentration of substance "X" with measurable biological effects (e.g., reduced survival, growth, or reproduction). This requirement is reflected in Section 2.3.2 of the Ocean Testing Manual "Green Book" (USEPA/USACE 1991), which states that,

"To use bioaccumulation in a decision, it is necessary to predict whether there will be a cause-and-effect relationship between the animal's presence in dredged material and a meaningful adverse elevation of body burden of contaminants above that of similar animals not exposed to the dredged material."

Bioaccumulation data are evaluated at three levels of interpretation according to dredged sediment evaluation guidance. At the first level, the amount of bioaccumulation of a specific contaminant in organisms exposed to dredged sediment is compared to a numerical effect limit, such as a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action level or a fish advisory. If the concentration of a contaminant in an organism exposed to dredged sediment exceeds such a numerical limit, there is the potential for the dredged sediment disposal to have an "unacceptable adverse effect." If it does not exceed a numerical limit, or there is no published numerical limit for the contaminant(s) of concern, a second level of evaluation is undertaken, which involves a statistical comparison to data collected from animals exposed to a reference sediment. If bioaccumulation in the animals exposed to the dredged sediment is statistically greater than that of animals exposed to the reference sediment, then a third level of interpretation is initiated in which a number of evaluator factors are considered to determine whether or not dredged sediment disposal will result in an "unacceptable adverse effect." According to USEPA/USACE (1991, 1998) guidance, the factors to be considered include:

  1. Number of species tested and their phylogenetic diversity.
  2. Number of bioaccumulated contaminants.
  3. Magnitude of bioaccumulation.
  4. Toxicological importance of contaminants.
  5. Propensity for contaminants to biomagnify.
  6. Comparison to background concentrations.

The utility of bioaccumulation interpretive guidance is constrained by three important limitations: (a) the small number of published numerical limits available for use in the first level of interpretation compared to the large number of contaminants commonly present in freshwater and marine sediments, (b) the uncertainties involved in applying an arbitrary statistical cutoff (i.e., alpha=0.05), and (c) the largely qualitative/subjective nature of the evaluation factors applied in the third level of interpretation.

To help interpret bioaccumulation tests, one approach is to use published empirical data where tissue contaminant concentrations and resulting effects have been measured in the same organism (i.e., residue-effects data). A more direct and objective means of evaluating the potential consequences of bioaccumulation is to compare measured tissue concentrations from bioaccumulation tests to published information that describes the relationship between contaminant tissue concentrations and the likelihood for adverse effects. Prior to the 1990s, practical reliance on residue-effects information was hampered by the paucity of published residue-effects data and the rather "scattered" distribution of this information in the literature. Before residue-effects information can be put to use in a regulatory program, an accessible, centralized repository for this type of data is needed.

In recognition of this fact, the USACE, with support from the USEPA, developed the ERED in 1995. Users can query the online database by specifying a number of potential criteria or download the complete ERED data set as a spreadsheet. Website query results provide summaries of relevant studies along with citations for the original studies. Results can be downloaded as a spreadsheet file.

In the ERED

Figure 2. Top 10 ERED chemicals.

Figure 3. Top 10 ERED Tissues.

Figure 4. Top 10 ERED effects.

Searching Data

ERED data can be searched and obtained through multiple paths.

  1. Download all ERED data as an Excel spreadsheet. (Excel spreadsheet)
  2. Search ERED species and select available contaminants for the species of interest. (Specific Search)
  3. Larger data sets can be accessed for species groups (e.g., vertebrates-fishes,nonsalmonid;) and contaminant group (e.g., metals, metal compounds, pesticides, PCBs). (Range Search)
  4. ERED data can be obtained by searching references. (References)


ERED data is provided with limited supporting information (see table below). We recommend revisiting the literature to confirm your findings. We acknowledge there are other types of supporting information that may be of value to your search that are not reported on the website. Please download the ERED spreadsheet to see some additional supporting fields that may support your search (Download ERED excel spreadsheet). If you have ideas for other supporting fields please e-mail your ideas to the database manager and we will consider incorporating them going forward (E-mail database manager).

Selection Criteria

Papers clearly identifying a test substance (i.e., chemical), test species, exposure conditions, and test endpoints are accepted for further review. Exclusion of a paper can occur and is generally related to unclear or inexact details of the methods and results. Papers of interest to the ERED include aquatic based laboratory or field investigations varying widely in methods and presentation of results with a focus on fishes, worms, and bivalves as these are commonly used in bioaccumulation testing. Review priority is given to studies where tissue contaminant concentrations and resulting effects have been measured in the same organism for a single contaminant. The ERED also includes papers involving testing of more than one chemical (i.e., a mixture) if the effects can be linked to a dominant chemical. The ERED reviews are prioritized for papers reporting whole body concentrations and ecologically important effects such as survival, growth, and reproduction, but includes other tissues when reported (e.g., liver, kidney) and other biological effects (e.g., induction of enzymes).

No attempt is made to assign value to papers in the ERED (e.g., Grade A, B, C; reliable or unreliable, etc.). We assume each user has a unique set of exclusion criteria to meet their needs. See the reference section below to learn more about selecting and using bioaccumulation data. The ERED attempts to provide enough supporting information for you to begin selecting papers for a closer look. We encourage the user to revisit the papers after selections are made to better understand the results.

Data Fields and Descriptions

Field Name Description
(GENERAL)  N/I (No Informaiton: suggests upon further review this data field may be populated);
N/R (Not Reported: the data field could not be completed because the information was not reported in the study or the information is unclear or inexact) 
Analyte   The chemical substance used to create the exposure.  
CAS   CAS registry number is a unique numerical identifier assigned by Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) to a chemical substance.  
COLL  Where the animal was obtained: C (cultured/reared in laboratory); W (collected from wild) 
Comments  Commonly supports the effects data or methods. 
Common name  Common name of the test animal. 
Control   The control response for the observed effect (e.g., survival, growth, reproduction; etc.). 
Dose  The frequency with which the contaminant was applied during the test. 
Duration   The duration of the exposure period: hr (hours); d (days) wk (weeks), mo (months), yr (years). 
Effect   The type of toxicological effect observed in the test animal (e.g., survival, growth, reproduction). 
ERED ID  Unique identification number autogenerated by database. 
ExpConc  The exposure concentration and units. 
Fraction   The test animal tissue used to determine tissue residue (e.g., whole body, soft tissue, liver, etc.). 
Genus Species   Scientific name of the test animal. 
H2O  Type of water used to test animal: FW (freshwater); SW (saltwater) 
Mix   Whether the analyte was tested as part of a mixture of analytes or individually: yes (part of mixture), no (single) 
Pct. Effect  The magnitude of the effect (e.g., % mortality; change in weight; change in length; percent hatch; etc.). 
Risk   Summary of the risk (e.g., ED, NOED, LOED) an analyte might pose to the test animal. Going forward ERED will not report a risk number unless it is reported in the study. 
Route   The route by which the analyte was intended to enter the body: aquatic; diet; injection. 
Signif   Whether the effect was significantly different, usually compared to the control for laboratory studies: Yes (significant); No (not significant). 
Source  Reference from which data was obtained. 
Spiked  Whether the analyte was spiked into the route (aquatic, diet, sediment, injection): yes (analyte spiked), no (analyte not spiked) 
ST  Study type: L (Lab); F (Field); Meso (Mesocosm); Micro (Microcosm) 
Stage   Life stage of the test animal (e.g., egg, larval, juvenile, adult). 
Tissue ww (mg/kg)   Tissue residue of analyte in the test animal tissue (mg/kg wet weight). 
Trend   The trend of the effect, usually compared to the control for laboratory studies: INC (increase); DEC (decrease), NEF (No effect). 

References and other readings

Bridges TS and Lutz CH. 1999. Interpreting Bioaccumulation Data with the Environmental ResidueEffects Database. Dredging Research Technical Note EEDP-04-30. U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS, USA.

Judd, N, L Tear and J Toll. 2013. From sediment to tissue and tissue to sediment: an evaluation of statistical bioaccumulation models. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 10:102-113.

Klimisch, HJ, M Andreae and U Tillman. 1997. A systematic approach for evaluating the quality of experimental toxicology and ecotoxicology data. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 25:1-5.

Parkerton TF, Arnot JA, Weisbord AV, Russom C, Hoke RA, Woodburn K, Traas T, Bonnell M, Burkhard LP, Lampi MA. 2008. Guidance for evaluating in vivo fish bioaccumulation data. Integrated environmental assessment and management 4:139-155.

Sappington KG, Bridges TS, Bradbury SP, Erickson RJ, Hendriks AJ, Lanno RP, Meador JP, Mount DR, Salazar MH, Spry DJ. 2011. Application of the tissue residue approach in ecological risk assessment. Integrated environmental assessment and management 7:116-140.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 1976. Ecological evaluation of proposed discharge of dredged or fill material into navigable waters. Miscellaneous Paper D-76-17, U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency/ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 1998. Evaluation of dredged material proposed for discharge in waters of the U .S.-testing manual. EPA 823-F-94-002, US EPA Office of Water, Washington, DC.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 1991. Evaluation of dredged material proposed for ocean disposal-testing manual. EPA-503/8-91/001, USEPA Office of Water, Washington, DC.

USEPA. 2002. ECOTOX User Guide: ECOTOXicology Database System. Version 3.0. Available at http:/

Van Geest, JL, DG Poirier, PK Sibley and KR Solomon. 2010. Measuring bioaccumulation of contaminants from field-collected sediment in freshwater organisms: a critical review of laboratory methods. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 29:2391-2401.

Weisbrod AV, Burkhard LP, Arnot J, Mekenyan O, Howard PH, Russom C, Boethling R, Sakuratani Y, Traas T, Bridges T, Lutz C, Bonnell M, Woodburn K, Parkerton T. 2007. Workgroup report: review of fish bioaccumulation databases used to identify persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic substances. Environmental Health Perspectives 115:255-261.