September 19, 2018 by Becky Brown


In a previous blog I highlighted that, as part of the ongoing review of the Water Framework Directive (WFD), the European Commission (EC) is considering “effects based tools” (EBTs) for use as alternatives to, or in combination with, the monitoring of individual substance concentrations. There are several ways in which EBTs may be used in environmental monitoring, but one approach, which integrates chemical exposure over time, is to conduct toxicity profiling on extracts from passive samplers deployed in surface waters.

wca has conducted a critical evaluation of available EBTs that could be used in conjunction with passive samplers in monitoring surface waters associated with the oil and gas industry. The study is based on a literature review of monitoring data for twenty-two assays, including some novel whole organism bioassays (or surrogate for whole organism effects), and in vitro or bacterial assays designed to assess the potential for endocrine (oestrogen, androgen and thyroid), genotoxicity, oxidative stress, and metabolism effects from polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The assays were evaluated based on their performance, validation maturity, result interpretation and applicability, and pedigree for use in monitoring surface waters. Commonly used whole-organism assays (e.g. acute invertebrate, algae and fish tests), were not subject to detailed review since they are already well proven for such applications, but were nevertheless considered as part of the final evaluation.

The literature review was used to propose thirteen assays as a starting point for the development of a suite of EBTs for the specific application of monitoring surface waters associated with refinery discharges.

The review was conducted on behalf of Concawe and formed the basis of a poster which was presented in the SETAC-Europe meeting held in Rome 13th-17th May 2018. It has also now been published as Concawe report No. 14/18.

Further reading:

Can Chemical Water Quality Standards developed by one jurisdiction be applied in other countries or regions?

Concept, tools and strategies for effluent testing: An International Workshop