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Mar Environ Res. 2014 May;96:81-91. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2013.10.008. Epub 2013 Nov 1.

Environmental risk assessment of combined effects in aquatic ecotoxicology: a discussion paper.

Author information

Norwegian Institute of Water Research - NIVA, NO-0349 Oslo, Norway; University of Stavanger, Department of Mathematics and Natural Science, N-4036 Stavanger, Norway. Electronic address:
Norwegian Institute of Water Research - NIVA, NO-0349 Oslo, Norway.
Norwegian Institute of Water Research - NIVA, NO-0349 Oslo, Norway; Norwegian University of Life Sciences - UMB, N-0033 Oslo, Norway.


Environmental regulatory edicts within the EU, such as the regulatory framework for chemicals REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), the Water Framework Directive (WFD), and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) focus mainly on toxicity assessment of individual chemicals although the effect of contaminant mixtures is a matter of increasing concern. This discussion paper provides an overview of the field of combined effects in aquatic ecotoxicology and addresses some of the major challenges related to assessment of combined effects in connection with environmental risk assessment (ERA) and regulation. Potentials and obstacles related to different experimental, modelling and predictive ERA approaches are described. On-going ERA guideline and manual developments in Europe aiming to incorporate combined effects of contaminants, the use of different experimental approaches for providing combined effect data, the involvement of biomarkers to characterize Mode of Action and toxicity pathways and efforts to identify relevant risk scenarios related to combined effects are discussed.


Combined effects; Environmental pollutants; Regulation; Risk assessment

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