Emissions of man-made chemicals can potentially have an adverse impact on the ecological balance in marine and terrestrial environments. Risk assessments have historically considered the potential for bioaccumulation (transference form the environmental compartment to the organisms) but not the potential for biomagnification through the food chain. Assessing the biomagnification risk is however essential for chemicals which combine persistence and bioaccumulation potential such as DDT and similar compounds. Whilst environmental levels may seem ‘harmless’ based on conventional effect measurements, the substance may nonetheless appear in body tissue at potentially harmful levels. This research aims to develop more accurate models for predicting the environmental risks. Key steps will be:
1. Improving understanding and prediction of bioaccumulation via the food web.
2. Developing a tiered approach to assess the potential for biomagnification.
3. Defining critical body burdens for chronic toxicity endpoints of terrestrial and marine organisms.
4. Studying the relationships between biomagnification and factors such as persistence and bioavailability to predict body concentrations more accurately.
E Alonso, N Tapie, H Budzinski, K Lemenach, L Pelluhet, JV Tarazona, A model for estimating the potential biomagnification of chemicals in a generic food web: preliminary development, Environmental Science and Pollution Research 2008, 15, 31-40.