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Environ Sci Technol. 2004 Dec 1;38(23):6225-33.

Applications of contaminant fate and bioaccumulation models in assessing ecological risks of chemicals: a case study for gasoline hydrocarbons.

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720-8132, USA.


Mass balance models of chemical fate and transport can be applied in ecological risk assessments for quantitative estimation of concentrations in air, water, soil, and sediment. These concentrations can, in turn, be used to estimate organism exposures and ultimately internal tissue concentrations that can be compared to mode-of-action-based critical body residues that induce toxic effects. From this comparison, risks to the exposed organism can be evaluated. To demonstrate the use of fate models in ecological risk assessment, we combine the EQuilibrium Criterion (EQC) environmental fate model with a simple screening level biouptake model for three representative organisms: a bird, a mammal, and a fish. This effort yields estimates of internal body concentrations that can be compared with levels known to elicit toxic effects. As an illustration, we present an analysis of 24 hydrocarbon components of gasoline that differ in properties but are assumed to elicit toxicity by a common narcotic mode of action. Results demonstrate that differences in chemical properties and mode of entry into the environment lead to profound differences in the efficiency of transport from emission to target biota. We discussthe implications of these results and draw attention to the insights gained about regional fate and ecological risks associated with gasoline. This approach is suitable for assessing single chemicals or mixtures that have similar modes of action. We conclude that the model-based methodologies presented are widely applicable for screening level ecological risk assessments that support effective chemicals management.

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