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Sci Total Environ. 2008 Dec 1;406(3):518-22. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.07.018. Epub 2008 Aug 30.

Ecological risk assessment in legislation on contaminated soil in The Netherlands.

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Soil Protection Technical Committee, P.O. Box 30947, 2500 GX The Hague, The Netherlands.


Recently the Dutch soil policy was revised including new rules for the relocation of contaminated soil and dredged soil material. With these rules, new methods for ecotoxicological risk assessment were implemented. One of the new methods is the assessment of the local toxic pressure of mixtures, also known as the ms-PAF- method, based on the Species Sensitivity Distribution concept. The ms-PAF method is applied for risk assessment of spreading of dredged soil material on adjacent land. Its application will possibly be extended to the derivation of local soil quality standards relevant in the context of soil relocation. The application of the local toxic pressure will probably increase the reuse of contaminated soil and dredged soil material and hence will reduce the amounts considered to be unfit for use. With this method, local ecological risk limits are derived using pore water concentrations and effects on water organisms. Pore water concentrations are subsequently transferred to total soil concentrations using empirical relationships. The methodology does not impose upper limits for total soil concentrations. In soils with a high sorption capacity, total soil concentrations that are considered to be acceptable may be several times higher than the current Dutch intervention values. The possible introduction of the ms-PAF method will open the door to local soil relocation with soils containing large amounts of (semi-permanently soil bound) contaminants. Since the ms-PAF method is not yet properly validated, the lack of evidence of ecological effects using models like the ms-PAF method cannot be regarded as an indication for the absence of effects in reality. The Dutch soil quality decree would gain environmental ambition when the ms-PAF method was combined with a realistic upper limit on total soil concentrations. This would prevent contamination of land by means of soil relocation.

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