Histopathologic and histochemical biomaker responses of Baltic clam, Macoma balthica, to contaminated Sydney Harbour sediment, Nova Scotia, Canada

Kok Leng Tay, Swee J Teh, Ken Doe, Ken Lee, Paula Jackman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


Sediments in Sydney Harbour, Nova Scotia, are highly contaminated by polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy metals. Histopathologic and histochemical evaluations were made on the Baltic clam, Macoma balthica, exposed to 11 Sydney Harbour sediment samples. Histologic lesions in digestive gland (tubular dilation or atrophy, macrophage aggregates, tubular cell necrosis, and tissue inflammation) and gonads (macrophage aggregates, supporting cell, germ cell, and ovarian cell necroses) were frequently detected in clams exposed to the most contaminated sediments from the harbor. Clams exposed to these contaminated sediments also had the highest acid phosphatase activity. The average scores of tubular dilation or atrophy, ovarian cell necrosis, and the sums of mean digestive gland lesions correlated significantly with sediment PCBs, and the activities of acid phosphatase correlated significantly with sediment heavy metals, PAHs, and PCBs. Among the lesions, digestive gland tubular dilation or atrophy, tubular cell, germ cell, and ovarian cell necroses, and the activity of acid phosphatase are the best sublethal effect indicators in Macoma exposed to Sydney Harbour sediments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-280
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003



  • Biomarkers
  • Chronic biologic effects
  • Clams
  • Histochemistry
  • Histology
  • Macoma balthica
  • Marine sediment
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this