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Definition and applications of a versatile chemical pollution footprint methodology.

Authors
  • Zijp, Michiel C1
  • Posthuma, Leo
  • van de Meent, Dik
  • 1 Department of Sustainability, Environment and Health, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) , P.O. Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Environmental Science & Technology
Publisher
American Chemical Society
Publication Date
Sep 16, 2014
Volume
48
Issue
18
Pages
10588–10597
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1021/es500629f
PMID: 25111657
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Because of the great variety in behavior and modes of action of chemicals, impact assessment of multiple substances is complex, as is the communication of its results. Given calls for cumulative impact assessments, we developed a methodology that is aimed at expressing the expected cumulative impacts of mixtures of chemicals on aquatic ecosystems for a region and subsequently allows to present these results as a chemical pollution footprint, in short: a chemical footprint. Setting and using a boundary for chemical pollution is part of the methodology. Two case studies were executed to test and illustrate the methodology. The first case illustrates that the production and use of organic substances in Europe, judged with the European water volume, stays within the currently set policy boundaries for chemical pollution. The second case shows that the use of pesticides in Northwestern Europe, judged with the regional water volume, has exceeded the set boundaries, while showing a declining trend over time. The impact of mixtures of substances in the environment could be expressed as a chemical footprint, and the relative contribution of substances to that footprint could be evaluated. These features are a novel type of information to support risk management, by helping prioritization of management among chemicals and environmental compartments.

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