ENVIRONMENTAL RISK ASSESSMENT in .NET

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assessment. However, assessment end points that cannot be measured directly but can be represented by surrogate measures that are easily monitored and modeled can still provide a good foundation for the risk assessment.
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Developing Conceptual Models
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Conceptual models link anthropogenic activities with stressors and evaluate the relationships among exposure pathways, ecological effects, and ecological receptors. The models also may describe natural processes that in uence these relationships. Conceptual models include a set of risk hypotheses that describe predicted relationships between stressor, exposure, and assessment end point response, along with the rationale for their selection. Risk hypotheses are hypotheses in the broad scienti c sense; they do not necessarily involve statistical testing of null and alternative hypotheses or any particular analytical approach. Risk hypotheses may predict the effects of a stressor, or they may postulate what stressors may have caused observed ecological effects. Diagrams can be used to illustrate the relationships described by the conceptual model and risk hypotheses. Conceptual model diagrams are useful tools for communicating important pathways and for identifying major sources of uncertainty. These diagrams and risk hypotheses can be used to identify the most important pathways and relationships to consider in the analysis phase. The hypotheses considered most likely to contribute to risk are identi ed for subsequent evaluation in the risk assessment. The complexity of the conceptual model depends on the complexity of the problem, number of stressors and assessment end points being considered, nature of effects, and characteristics of the ecosystem. For single stressors and single assessment end points, conceptual models can be relatively simple relationships. In cases where conceptual models describe, besides the pathways of individual stressors and assessment end points, the interaction of multiple and diverse stressors and assessment end points, several submodels would be required to describe individual pathways. Other models may then be used to explore how these individual pathways interact. An example of a conceptual model for a watershed in shown in Figure 28.2.
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Selecting Measures
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The last step in the problem formulation phase is the development of an analysis plan or proposal that identi es measures to evaluate each risk hypothesis and that describes the assessment design, data needs, assumptions, extrapolations, and speci c methods for conducting the analysis. There are three categories of measures that can be selected. Measures of effect (also called measurement end points) are measures used to evaluate the response of the assessment end point when exposed to a stressor. Measures of exposure are measures of how exposure may be occurring, including how a stressor moves through the environment and how it may co-occur with the assessment end point. Measures of ecosystem and receptor characteristics include ecosystem characteristics that in uence the behavior and location of assessment end points, the distribution of a stressor, and life history characteristics of the assessment end point that may affect exposure or response to the stressor. These diverse measures increase in importance as the complexity of the assessment increases.
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ANALYZING EXPOSURE AND EFFECTS INFORMATION
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Activities Agricultural Water control measures Pesticide application Fertilizer application Land alteration Industrial Chemical waste sites Waste discharges Construction Spills Municipal Mobile sources (autos) Sewage discharges Urban runoff Construction Waste sites Recreational/ Commercial Dredging channelizing Shoreline protection Fish/hunting Timber harvest Boating Regional/ Global Atmospheric deposition Fossil fuel combustion Chlorofluorocarbons
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Stressors Toxicants Nutrients Soil Particles Noise Disease UV/B Radiation
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Hydrologic Alteration Ecological Effects Models
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Assessment Endpoints Water-Dependent Wildlife Measures Populations/Health Assessment of: colonial water birds amphibians/reptiles Pond Invertebrates: abundance diversity health indices Health Assessment: gross abnormalities histopathology toxicant residues biomarkers Water Assessment: dissolved oxygen turbidity primary productivity toxicant residues bioassays Plant Assessment: aquatic plant cover light attenuation dissolved nutrients macroalgae Benthic Invertebrates Finfish Community Water/Sediment Quality Standards Aquatic Plant Habital
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Figure 28.2 An example of a conceptual model for a watershed. Human activities, shown at the top of the diagram, result in various stressors that induce ecological effects. Assessment end points and related measures that are associated with these effects are shown at the bottom of the diagram.
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An important consideration in the identi cation of these measures is their response sensitivity and ecosystem relevance. Response sensitivity is usually highest with measures at the lower levels of biological organization, but the ecosystem relevance is highest at the higher levels of biological organization. This dichotomy is illustrated in Figure 28.3. In general, the time required to illicit a response also increases with the level of biological organization. Note that toxicologists focus on measures at lower levels of biological organization, relying on an extrapolation of the toxicant effects on populations and communities that are initiated at the molecular/cellular level and, if this insult is not corrected for, or adapted to, then effects on physiological systems and individual organisms. For certain toxic modes of action (e.g., reproductive toxicity), this could result in effects at the population and community levels. In contrast, ecologists focus on measures at the population level or higher for obvious reasons of ecological relevance. A combination of measures often is necessary to provide reasonable sensitivity, ecosystem relevance, and causal relationships.
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