February 5, 2019 by Iain Wilson

A new paper has been published, with Adam Peters as lead author, on assessing the compliance of European freshwaters for copper, accounting for bioavailability in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. This paper was produced by Adam Peters, Graham Merrington and myself, in conjunction with Dagobert Heijerick and Stijn Baken.

This study determines the levels of compliance of European freshwaters with a bioavailability-based copper Environmental Quality Standard (EQS). A tiered approach for compliance assessment was applied. The first tier compares the dissolved metal concentration to a threshold, estimated using either regional or continental water chemistry data. At the second tier, the bioavailable copper concentration was calculated using the chemistry of the water body, and compared to the EQSbioavailable for copper. The data used for the assessment was compiled from through-out Europe and also included the FOREGS dataset.

It was determined that the thresholds at Tier 1 must be set at a level to ensure adequate protection of sensitive environments and to ensure efficient use of regulatory resources. Compliance of 99.3% was observed where bioavailability-based thresholds are used for the implementation; derived from regionally relevant water chemistry data. Sites where elevated ambient background levels of copper are combined with high bioavailability, for example waters with low dissolved organic carbon, were identified as the most likely to be at risk from copper exposures.

This paper, Assessing Compliance of European Fresh Waters for Copper: Accounting for Bioavailability, is available as a open-access publication and can be downloaded here.