Equilibrium partitioning (EqP) theory is currently the most widely used approach for linking sediment pollution by persistent hydrophobic organic chemicals to bioaccumulation. Most applications of the EqP approach assume (I) a generic relationship between organic carbon-normalized chemical concentrations in sediments and lipid-normalized concentrations in biota and (II) that bioaccumulation does not induce levels exceeding those expected from equilibrium partitioning. Here, we demonstrate that assumption I can be obviated by equilibrating a silicone sampler with chemicals in sediment, measuring chemical concentrations in the silicone, and applying lipid/silicone partition ratios to yield concentrations in lipid at thermodynamic equilibrium with the sediment (CLip⇌Sed). Furthermore, we evaluated the validity of assumption II by comparing CLip⇌Sed of selected persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic pollutants (polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB)) to lipid-normalized concentrations for a range of biota from a Swedish background lake. PCBs in duck mussels, roach, eel, pikeperch, perch and pike were mostly below the equilibrium partitioning level relative to the sediment, i.e., lipid-normalized concentrations were ≤CLip⇌Sed, whereas HCB was near equilibrium between biota and sediment. Equilibrium sampling allows straightforward, sensitive and precise measurement of CLip⇌Sed. We propose CLip⇌Sed as a metric of the thermodynamic potential for bioaccumulation of persistent organic chemicals from sediment useful to prioritize management actions to remediate contaminated sites.