December 3, 2014 by Adam Peters

The European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (ECETOC) has recently published the report of a workshop on estimating toxicity thresholds for aquatic ecological communities from sensitivity distributions. I was fortunate to attend the workshop, which covered the application of species sensitivity distributions (SSDs) to derive acceptable concentrations of chemicals for a variety of different regulatory applications. Three principal areas of application of SSDs were identified; these are the derivation of generic thresholds, scenario-specific thresholds, and quantitative diagnostic tools. The workshop also considered how a number of tools which are available for developing and applying SSDs are able to contribute towards deriving robust and reliable environmental thresholds for chemicals. Issues which received considerable interest at the workshop surrounded the minimum dataset requirements and the use of surrogate data (for example from the USEPA WEB-ICE tool) to derive more robust thresholds for substances which do not have extensive ecotoxicity datasets. The report of the meeting can be obtained via the ECETOC website.