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Title: Reducing uncertainty in ecological risk assessment: The pros of measuring contaminant exposures

Abstract

Wildlife species (mammals, birds and reptiles) are primarily exposed to contamination in soils via ingestion of food. Uncertainties in risk analyses for this pathway are largely associated with the estimation of the amount of contamination in food items. The benefits of measuring contaminant concentrations in food items are examined based on comparison of risk results with and without measurements of exposure. At two hazardous waste sites, plants and earthworms were analyzed for metals and organics. Site-specific bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) were calculated and compared to literature reported values. In general, the metals concentrations in plant samples were higher than those predicted by literature values with the exception of cadmium and copper. Metal concentrations measured in invertebrates (worms) were lower than those predicted by literature values with the exception of arsenic. Literature BAFs did not adequately predict concentrations of barium, mercury or copper in invertebrate tissue. In the ecological risk assessments for both of the sites, if site-specific measurements were used, risks for wildlife species were not predicted. However if literature BAF values were used, unacceptable risks were predicted. The higher estimates of risks were associated with overestimates of dietary exposures of lead, cadmium, chromium, copper and zinc. Measurement of contaminant exposuresmore » provided for a more realistic and cost-effective estimate of ecological risks. The effect of using the empirical data on the magnitude of risks were evaluated including decisions concerning remediation. A cost-benefit analysis will be provided comparing the costs of measurement of exposures versus remediation.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2]
  1. ABB Environmental Services, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  2. ABB Environmental Services, Arlington, VA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
212087
Report Number(s):
CONF-9511137-
ISBN 1-880611-03-1; TRN: IM9617%%403
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: 2. Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) world conference, Vancouver (Canada), 5-9 Nov 1995; Other Information: PBD: 1995; Related Information: Is Part Of Second SETAC world congress (16. annual meeting): Abstract book. Global environmental protection: Science, politics, and common sense; PB: 378 p.
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 56 BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE, APPLIED STUDIES; RISK ASSESSMENT; DATA COVARIANCES; CADMIUM; BIOLOGICAL ACCUMULATION; COPPER; ARSENIC; BARIUM; MERCURY; LEAD; CHROMIUM; ZINC; FOOD CHAINS; POLLUTION; BIOLOGICAL INDICATORS; ANNELIDS; SENSITIVITY; PLANTS; ENVIRONMENTAL EXPOSURE PATHWAY; WILD ANIMALS; REMEDIAL ACTION

Citation Formats

Burris, J.A., and Pease, A. Reducing uncertainty in ecological risk assessment: The pros of measuring contaminant exposures. United States: N. p., 1995. Web.
Burris, J.A., & Pease, A. Reducing uncertainty in ecological risk assessment: The pros of measuring contaminant exposures. United States.
Burris, J.A., and Pease, A. Sun . "Reducing uncertainty in ecological risk assessment: The pros of measuring contaminant exposures". United States. doi:.
@article{osti_212087,
title = {Reducing uncertainty in ecological risk assessment: The pros of measuring contaminant exposures},
author = {Burris, J.A. and Pease, A.},
abstractNote = {Wildlife species (mammals, birds and reptiles) are primarily exposed to contamination in soils via ingestion of food. Uncertainties in risk analyses for this pathway are largely associated with the estimation of the amount of contamination in food items. The benefits of measuring contaminant concentrations in food items are examined based on comparison of risk results with and without measurements of exposure. At two hazardous waste sites, plants and earthworms were analyzed for metals and organics. Site-specific bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) were calculated and compared to literature reported values. In general, the metals concentrations in plant samples were higher than those predicted by literature values with the exception of cadmium and copper. Metal concentrations measured in invertebrates (worms) were lower than those predicted by literature values with the exception of arsenic. Literature BAFs did not adequately predict concentrations of barium, mercury or copper in invertebrate tissue. In the ecological risk assessments for both of the sites, if site-specific measurements were used, risks for wildlife species were not predicted. However if literature BAF values were used, unacceptable risks were predicted. The higher estimates of risks were associated with overestimates of dietary exposures of lead, cadmium, chromium, copper and zinc. Measurement of contaminant exposures provided for a more realistic and cost-effective estimate of ecological risks. The effect of using the empirical data on the magnitude of risks were evaluated including decisions concerning remediation. A cost-benefit analysis will be provided comparing the costs of measurement of exposures versus remediation.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 1995},
month = {Sun Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 1995}
}

Conference:
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  • Ecological risk can be assessed at different levels of biological organization: biochemical, whole animal, populations and communities. Each level is characterized by varying degrees of contaminant sensitivity, response time, causal linkage and ecological interpretation. Whole animal bioassays are used in research and regulatory programs to assess contaminant impacts. In many ways, bioassays represent a compromise between the need for rapid, sensitive testing and the desire to measure ecologically important endpoints. Population demographic models represent a tool for interpreting bioassay results. They integrate life-history information and project population-level contaminant effects. Four important research issues must be addressed before demographic models canmore » be fully utilized in this manner. Assumptions and extrapolations accompanying many models must be critically examined; e.g. assumption of no density-dependence and spatial/temporal extrapolations. Laboratory-based models must be calibrated with field-derived demographic models. Population models must be coupled with exposure models to characterize contaminant risk. Finally, field verification studies must be conducted to evaluate the accuracy of demographic model predictions.« less
  • The Gas Research Institute (GRI) of Chicago, Illinois, recently completed the first phase of a research program to develop a methodology to determine environmentally acceptable endpoints or EAEs in soil. The results of this effort are being published by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers in a text, Environmentally Acceptable Endpoints in Soil: A Risk-Based Approach to Contaminated Site Management Based on Availability of Chemicals in Soil. This presentation will review the key technical findings of this first phase of research with an emphasis on the sequestration and bioavailability of organic compounds in soil and the effect of treatment onmore » contaminant availability, mobility, and toxicity. A strawman protocol for the tiered evaluation of the ecological risk of a contaminated site based upon contaminant availability will also be examined. The use, refinement, and possible replacement of this protocol with alternative approaches is currently being discussed with a consortia of government, academia, and industrial representatives in the states of Washington and Texas and in the New England region. The results of these discussions will be presented and the critical technical and regulatory issues that have been identified by these consortia will be summarized. Possible alternative approaches to resolve the more significant issues will also be suggested.« less
  • In August of 1995, SETAC sponsored a Pellston conference entitled Uncertainty in Ecological Risk Assessment. In this presentation, the author will provide an overview of the consensus opinions reached during the conference including such areas as the role of uncertainty analysis in risk assessments, statistical methods and issues in uncertainty analysis, communicating uncertainty, the legal aspects of uncertainty, and the role of uncertainty in regulatory programs. Ecological risk assessment (ERA) is a process that estimates the probability and magnitude of adverse ecological effects as a result of exposure to one or more chemical, biological, or physical stressors. Since the publicationmore » of EPA`s Framework for Ecological Risk Assessment, ERA is becoming a widely used tool for environmental decision-making by private sector and government managers. As defined by EPA, risk assessments should be both probabilistic and quantitative, including an uncertainty analysis of the risk estimates. In practice, uncertainty in the risk estimates is frequently ignored or incorrectly calculated. In fact, many risk assessors find the uncertainty component of the risk framework difficult to implement and interpret. Uncertainty provides a measure of precision or value of the scientific information available for ecological risk studies. When uncertainty is ignored, this results in the illusion that the scientific information is more precise than it actually is. As a consequence, environmental managers are apt to exhibit surprise, or disappointment, when their management decisions lead to outcomes that are substantially different from expectations.« less
  • Uncertainty is a topic that has different meanings to researchers, modelers, managers and policy makers. The perspective of this presentation will be on the modeling view of uncertainty and its quantitative assessment. The goal is to provide some insight into how a statistician visualizes and addresses the issue of uncertainty in ecological risk assessment problems. In ecological risk assessment, uncertainty arises from many sources and is of different type depending on what is studies, where it is studied and how it is studied. Some major sources and their impact are described. A variety of quantitative approaches to modeling uncertainty aremore » characterized and a general taxonomy given. Examples of risk assessments of lake acidification, power plant impact assessment and the setting of standards for chemicals will be used discuss approaches to quantitative assessment of uncertainty and some of the potential difficulties.« less
  • The prevalence of uncertainty analysis in environmental decision-making is increasing. Specific methods for estimating and expressing uncertainty are available and continually being improved. Although these methods are intended to provide a measure of the suitability of the data upon which a decision is based, their application in litigation may result in outcomes that are unanticipated by some in the scientific community. This divergence between those estimating uncertainty in assessing ecological risk and those judging its application can be attributed in part to the different ways evidence is used in science and law. This presentation will explain how scientific evidence ismore » used in the courtroom. This explanation will use examples from case law to describe how courts decide who can be qualified to present evidence, what evidence can be presented, and how this evidence will be used in reaching a decision.« less