November 17, 2021 by Graham Merrington


Graham presented in a session at SETAC North America SciCon4 yesterday on Regulatory Update: Metals in the Environment. Christine Bergeron (USEPA) presented on the current activities in regard to bioavailability-based approaches for metals in the US. The most progress has been made for aluminium, copper, zinc and nickel. The USEPA is using specific cooperative five-year research agreements with the metals industries (CRADA), to utilise the science and understanding already developed. This seems to be a really sensible process to review the science in an apolitical way and seems to contrast with some of the recent regulatory behaviours witnessed under the WFD in Europe. The USEPA desire is to have one approach for all the metals, be it MLRs or BLMs in accounting for bioavailability. Christine openly acknowledged the need to deliver something fit for purpose for the user-community and that simple implementation was paramount. Others in the session, especially the practitioners very much agreed with this.

Doug Spry (ECCC) outlined an extensive programme of work that is ongoing in Canada on bioavailability of metals and WQG. Nickel, manganese, copper and zinc have been completed or are being progressed and the MLR approach developed in the US has been taken up too in Canada. Additional efforts on many other metals, including precious metals and lithium are also being undertaken. Doug outlined that in Canada, the most appropriate approach was what was being sought and they were less concerned about sticking to a specific model format.

Graham gave a presentation on the current activities in relation to metals under the WFD, highlighted the unfortunate activities with silver, flagged the new guidance, and stressed the need for greater activities with member states in regard to assisting with implementation.