Journal of Environmental Assessment and Management

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Table of Contents for Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management. List of articles from both the latest and EarlyView issues.
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Revising environmental quality standards: lessons learned

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 09:19
ABSTRACT

An Environmental Quality Standard (EQS) is a threshold value applied in regulatory monitoring for retrospective environmental risk assessment. However, EQSs may vary over time and between countries with shared water bodies, challenging coherent risk management. This study aimed to analyze the underlying reasons for changes in EQS values following a revision of previously derived EQSs for 62 substances. Relevant data were retrieved from publicly accessible databases, available literature and registration dossiers, and, in some cases, provided by manufacturers. Ecotoxicological data were assessed regarding reliability and relevance. As previously, EQS derivation followed the EU guideline. Overall, 61 annual average EQSs (AA‐EQS) and 58 maximum acceptable concentration EQSs (MAC‐EQS) were derived. Size and completeness of data sets generally increased due to the revision. AA‐EQSs increased in 13 and decreased in 21 cases. MAC‐EQSs increased in 22 and decreased in 11 cases. Most EQSs were derived using the deterministic assessment factor (AF) method. The number of substances for which EQSs were derived probabilistically by reference to the Species Sensitivity Distribution (SSD) method increased from 2 to 5 AA‐EQSs and 6 to 11 MAC‐EQSs. For AA‐EQS derivation, AFs were reduced in 14 and increased in 6 cases. For MAC‐EQS derivation, AFs were reduced in 9 and increased in 2 cases. Results demonstrate that the revisions did not generally lead to either lower or higher EQSs. The majority of EQSs (>93%) changed less than 10‐fold. Clearly, EQSs based on small or incomplete data sets with large AFs were more prone to considerable changes in their numeric values when revised than were EQSs based on SSDs. Thus, revision can reduce uncertainty and increase robustness of an EQS. In this study, however, available data continued to be insufficient to construct SSDs for the majority of substances. This was mostly due to a lack of data reliability.

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A probabilistic co‐occurrence approach for estimating likelihood of spatial overlap between listed species distribution and pesticide use patterns

Tue, 07/16/2019 - 09:13
ABSTRACT

Characterizing potential spatial overlap between federally threatened and endangered (‘listed’) species distributions and registered pesticide use patterns is important for accurate threatened and endangered species risk assessment. Because accurate range information for such rare species is often limited and agricultural pesticide use patterns are dynamic, simple spatial co‐occurrence methods may over‐ or under‐estimate overlap and result in decisions that benefit neither listed species nor the regulatory process. Here we demonstrate a new method of co‐occurrence analysis that employs probability theory to estimate spatial distribution of rare species populations and areas of pesticide use to determine the likelihood of potential exposure. Specifically, we 1) describe a probabilistic method to estimate pesticide use based on crop production patterns; 2) construct species distribution models for two listed insect species whose ranges were previously incompletely described, the rusty‐patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) and the Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek); and 3) develop a probabilistic co‐occurrence methodology and assessment framework. Using the principles of the Bayes’ Theorem, we constructed probabilistic spatial models of pesticide use areas by integrating information from land cover spatial data, agriculture statistics, and remote sensing data. We used maximum entropy methods to build species distribution models for two listed insects based on species collection/observation records and predictor variables relevant to the species’ biogeography and natural history. We further developed novel methods for refinement of these models at spatial scales relevant to US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regulatory priorities (e.g., critical habitat areas). Integrating both probabilistic assessments and focusing on USFWS priority management areas, we demonstrate that spatial overlap (i.e. potential for exposure) is not deterministic, but instead a function of both species distribution and land use patterns. Our work serves as a framework to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of threatened and endangered species assessments using a data‐driven likelihood analysis of species co‐occurrence.

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Sustainable seafood and vegetable production – aquaponics as a potential opportunity in urban areas

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 08:28
Abstract

Global population growth will increase pressures on current food systems in order to supply adequate protein and produce to the increasingly urban world population. The environmental impact of food production is a critical area of study, as it influences water and air quality, ecosystem functions, and energy consumption. Aquaponics (where seafood and vegetables are grown in a closed loop system), has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of food production. A review of the current environmental and economic considerations is provided in order to identify current research gaps. Research gaps exist with respect to 1) diversity of aquatic and plant species studied, 2) inconsistent bounds, scope, and lifetime across studies, 3) diverse allocation of the environmental and economic impacts to the co‐products, 4) scale of systems considered, 5) transportation of produced food, and 6) presence of heavy metals, pests and pathogens with human health implications. These aspects require increased attention to close the existing gaps prior to widescale deployment of these systems for increased sustainable food production towards satisficing human needs.

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Spatiotemporal Analysis of Land Use Land Cover Dynamics of Adama District, Ethiopia and its Implication to Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 08:27
ABSTRACT

The uncontrolled change of land use land cover enhances the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This study, therefore, aimed at spatiotemporal analysis of land use land cover dynamics and its implication to greenhouse gas emissions of Adama District, Ethiopia. Dry season landsat image TM of 1986, ETM of 2000 and ETM + of 2014 were downloaded from U.S. Geological Survey Global Visualization Viewer Website and employed. Hybrid classification approach was done after the preprocessing of the image. Moreover, observations, key informant interviews and focus group discussions were used. Analysis was carried out using the image data and survey data. The result indicates that agricultural land and shrub and bush land covered 80.98%, 76.75% and 74.42% of study area during 1986, 2000 and 2014 respectively. Though there are differences in magnitudes and rates of change during the considered years, land use land cover classification results of this study indicated that most of natural environments are converted to the human dominated environment attributed to human induced activities. Due to this conversion, environmental degradation would be aggravated which again paves the way for the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The study concludes that largely as a result of interventions from the communities living in the area, the study area is being transformed from the natural ecosystem to managed environment. Hence, practices of smallholder farmers with respect to area closures, afforestation and reforestation needs to be strengthened and supported by integrated policy framework.

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Institutional Analysis on Stakeholder Participation in China's Environmental Impact Assessment: A State–Attribution–Motivation–Interaction–Reengineering Framework

Tue, 07/09/2019 - 10:03
ABSTRACT

Environmental impact assessments (EIAs) play an essential role in promoting sustainable development by coordinating and balancing economic, social, and environmental objectives. As one of its mandatory components, stakeholder participation (SP) is designed to contribute to the implementation of EIAs as well as the relevant decision making with regard to a proposed project. Stakeholder participation ranges from being a token process to being a very effective practice; it has been criticized as ineffective in an authoritarian context. This research investigates the SP process of project EIAs via 3 case studies. A developed State–Attribution–Motivation– Interaction–Reengineering (SAMIR) framework is used to identify the causes, results, and substantive changes among 3 main actors or organizations: citizens, enterprises, and local governments. It demonstrates that the endogenous interactions among 3 institutional pillars—regulative, normative, and cognitive—are the root of institutional change. Initial cognitive actions can lead to regulative and normative social institutional change, thus stimulating the reengineering of the institutions’ system relevant to SP. To facilitate institutional innovation and reengineering of SP with Chinese characteristics, it is of crucial importance to deeply reform and detail institutional design, to promote the SP governance structural change from a closed model to an open model. In order for such change to occur, the following are recommended: Move from government to governance, have institutional innovations follow the mass line, pay more attention to fairness rather than focusing on efficiency, and in addition, disseminate science and promote actors’ communication. The benefits and advantages are instruments to overcome the “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) impact. And reengineering government structural change from and administration paradigm to a governance paradigm plays a primary role. © 2019 SETAC

Is it safe to paint your wall white? – A case study on titanium dioxide classification

Tue, 07/09/2019 - 08:47
ABSTRACT

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is in the process of being classified as a suspected carcinogenic substance (Carc. 2). The present case study probes the outcomes of this potential classification in terms of the reduction of hazardous exposure to TiO2 due to its classification. Furthermore, the case study examines the elements that are causing ambiguity during the classification process. This study is conducted by walking through the process from the present exposure to TiO2 to the hazard assessment associated with TiO2 exposure, to the regulatory classification process, and to practical outcomes affecting TiO2 usage. Finally, the impact of the classification on exposure, which was originally considered potentially hazardous, is evaluated. The case study shows that TiO2 classification as a carcinogen will not directly reduce respiratory exposure to TiO2, which was the original reason for the classification. Instead, the classification will lead to restrictions on recycling. Moreover, the classification will have an impact on certain solid artifacts and liquid mixtures for which hazardous exposure was not detected. Altogether, the present case raises questions concerning hazard communications associated with the Carc. 2 classification, treatment of Poorly Soluble Low Toxicity (PSLT) particles and nanoparticles in the REACH and CLP classifications, and use of human exposure studies for the purposes of chemical regulations. Based on the present study, the following recommendations are made. The final decision on the TiO2 classification should be reconsidered together with those of other PSLT particles and taking into account extensive developments in the field of nanoscience. Furthermore, European CHemicals Agency (ECHA) should develop state‐of‐the‐art guidance on how to use the available human exposure data. Finally, the authorities that are in charge of EU chemical management are advised to further develop the regulatory network to utilize the information generated in REACH processes as efficiently as possible and to verify that the connections between the regulations result in the intended outcome.

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Multi‐Criteria Decision Analysis Characterization of Chemical Hazard Assessment Data Sources

Mon, 07/08/2019 - 12:34
Abstract

Chemical Hazard Assessment (CHA), which aims to investigate the inherent hazard potential of chemicals, has been developed with the purpose of promoting safer consumer products. Despite the increasing use of CHA in recent years, finding adequate and reliable toxicity data required for CHA is still challenging due to issues regarding data completeness and data quality. Also, collecting data from primary toxicity reports or literature can be time consuming, which promotes the use of secondary data sources instead. In this study, we evaluate and characterize numerous secondary data sources on the basis of five performance attributes: reliability, adequacy, transparency, volume and ease of use. We use GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals v1.4 as the CHA framework, which defines the endpoints of interest used in this analysis. We focused upon thirty‐four data sources reflecting three types of secondary data: chemical‐oriented data sources, hazard‐trait‐oriented data sources and predictive data sources. To integrate and analyze the evaluation results, we applied two multi‐criteria decision analysis (MCDA) methodologies – multi‐attribute utility theory (MAUT) and stochastic multi‐objective acceptability analysis (SMAA). Overall, the findings in this research program allow us to explore the relative importance of performance criteria and the data source quality for effectively conducting CHA.

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Multi‐Criteria Decision Analysis Characterization of Chemical Hazard Assessment Data Sources

Mon, 07/08/2019 - 12:34
Abstract

Chemical Hazard Assessment (CHA), which aims to investigate the inherent hazard potential of chemicals, has been developed with the purpose of promoting safer consumer products. Despite the increasing use of CHA in recent years, finding adequate and reliable toxicity data required for CHA is still challenging due to issues regarding data completeness and data quality. Also, collecting data from primary toxicity reports or literature can be time consuming, which promotes the use of secondary data sources instead. In this study, we evaluate and characterize numerous secondary data sources on the basis of five performance attributes: reliability, adequacy, transparency, volume and ease of use. We use GreenScreen® for Safer Chemicals v1.4 as the CHA framework, which defines the endpoints of interest used in this analysis. We focused upon thirty‐four data sources reflecting three types of secondary data: chemical‐oriented data sources, hazard‐trait‐oriented data sources and predictive data sources. To integrate and analyze the evaluation results, we applied two multi‐criteria decision analysis (MCDA) methodologies – multi‐attribute utility theory (MAUT) and stochastic multi‐objective acceptability analysis (SMAA). Overall, the findings in this research program allow us to explore the relative importance of performance criteria and the data source quality for effectively conducting CHA.

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Evaluation of Lethal Fish Sampling and the Non‐lethal Alternative Under the Canadian Metal and Diamond Mining Environmental Effects Monitoring Program

Mon, 07/08/2019 - 12:34
Abstract

The Environmental Effects Monitoring (EEM) program, federally mandated to metal and diamond mines and mills in Canada, aims to ensure that fish, fish use and their environment are sufficiently protected by the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations (MDMER). Concerns have been raised regarding lethal fish sampling conducted for the program and the potential risk to fish populations. This study endeavoured to calculate the extent of fish sacrificed during lethal EEM fish surveys to provide a more informed characterization for stakeholders. By extrapolating data from 28 studies conducted at 8 metal mines in Saskatchewan between 2004 and 2017, it was conservatively estimated that 60,060 ± 19,978 fish have been sacrificed for the program nationwide since promulgation in 2002. This is almost two times greater than guidance recommendations due to numerous factors. Challenges faced when implementing the non‐lethal fish population survey alternative were also evaluated, and some of these included data interpretation inconsistencies due to the lack of critical effect sizes (CES) included in the regulations for non‐lethal effect endpoints, and reliance on capturing young of the year fish to assess the prescribed effect endpoints. Finally, a case study conducted to evaluate the congruity of lethal and non‐lethal fish population survey results identified the effect endpoints often produced conflicting conclusions for the same response variable. Ultimately, this study highlights that in order to strengthen and promote the use of non‐lethal fish sampling as an alternate to the current standard of conducting lethal fish population surveys under the EEM program, the effect endpoints, study designs, and adoption of CES need to be thoroughly evaluated and included in the MDMER. If non‐lethal sampling designs adequately provide the required data and meet program objectives, then there would be no need to continue sacrificing fish for the Canadian metal and diamond mining EEM program.

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Evaluation of Lethal Fish Sampling and the Non‐lethal Alternative Under the Canadian Metal and Diamond Mining Environmental Effects Monitoring Program

Mon, 07/08/2019 - 12:34
Abstract

The Environmental Effects Monitoring (EEM) program, federally mandated to metal and diamond mines and mills in Canada, aims to ensure that fish, fish use and their environment are sufficiently protected by the Metal and Diamond Mining Effluent Regulations (MDMER). Concerns have been raised regarding lethal fish sampling conducted for the program and the potential risk to fish populations. This study endeavoured to calculate the extent of fish sacrificed during lethal EEM fish surveys to provide a more informed characterization for stakeholders. By extrapolating data from 28 studies conducted at 8 metal mines in Saskatchewan between 2004 and 2017, it was conservatively estimated that 60,060 ± 19,978 fish have been sacrificed for the program nationwide since promulgation in 2002. This is almost two times greater than guidance recommendations due to numerous factors. Challenges faced when implementing the non‐lethal fish population survey alternative were also evaluated, and some of these included data interpretation inconsistencies due to the lack of critical effect sizes (CES) included in the regulations for non‐lethal effect endpoints, and reliance on capturing young of the year fish to assess the prescribed effect endpoints. Finally, a case study conducted to evaluate the congruity of lethal and non‐lethal fish population survey results identified the effect endpoints often produced conflicting conclusions for the same response variable. Ultimately, this study highlights that in order to strengthen and promote the use of non‐lethal fish sampling as an alternate to the current standard of conducting lethal fish population surveys under the EEM program, the effect endpoints, study designs, and adoption of CES need to be thoroughly evaluated and included in the MDMER. If non‐lethal sampling designs adequately provide the required data and meet program objectives, then there would be no need to continue sacrificing fish for the Canadian metal and diamond mining EEM program.

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Towards sustainable environmental quality: Priority research questions for the australasian region of oceania

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 08:48
ABSTRACT

Environmental challenges persist across the world, including the Australasian region of Oceania, where biodiversity hotspots and unique ecosystems such as The Great Barrier Reef are common. These systems are routinely affected by multiple stressors from anthropogenic activities, and increasingly influenced by global megatrends (e.g., the food – energy – water nexus, demographic transistions to cities) and climate change. Here we report priority research questions from the Global Horizon Scanning Project, which aimed to identify, prioritize and advance environmental quality research needs from an Australasian perspective, within a global context. We employed a transparent and inclusive process of soliciting key questions from Australasian members of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Following submission of 78 questions, 20 priority research questions were identified during an expert workshop in Nelson, New Zealand. These research questions covered a range of issues of global relevance, including research needed to: more closely integrate ecotoxicology and ecology for the protection of ecosystems; increase flexibility for prioritizing chemical substances currently in commerce; understand the impacts of complex mixtures and multiple stressors; and define environmental quality and ecosystem integrity of temporary waters. Some questions have specific relevance to Australasia, particularly the uncertainties associated with using toxicity data from exotic species to protect unique indigenous species. Several related priority questions deal with the theme of how widely international ecotoxicological data and databases can be applied to regional ecosystems. Other timely questions, which focus on improving predictive chemistry and toxicology tools and techniques, will be important to answer several of the priority questions identified here. Another important question raised was how to protect local cultural and social values and maintain indigenous engagement during problem formulation and identification of ecosystem protection goals. Addressing these questions will be challenging, but doing so promises to advance environmental sustainability in Oceania and globally.

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Towards sustainable environmental quality: Priority research questions for the australasian region of oceania

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 08:48
ABSTRACT

Environmental challenges persist across the world, including the Australasian region of Oceania, where biodiversity hotspots and unique ecosystems such as The Great Barrier Reef are common. These systems are routinely affected by multiple stressors from anthropogenic activities, and increasingly influenced by global megatrends (e.g., the food – energy – water nexus, demographic transistions to cities) and climate change. Here we report priority research questions from the Global Horizon Scanning Project, which aimed to identify, prioritize and advance environmental quality research needs from an Australasian perspective, within a global context. We employed a transparent and inclusive process of soliciting key questions from Australasian members of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Following submission of 78 questions, 20 priority research questions were identified during an expert workshop in Nelson, New Zealand. These research questions covered a range of issues of global relevance, including research needed to: more closely integrate ecotoxicology and ecology for the protection of ecosystems; increase flexibility for prioritizing chemical substances currently in commerce; understand the impacts of complex mixtures and multiple stressors; and define environmental quality and ecosystem integrity of temporary waters. Some questions have specific relevance to Australasia, particularly the uncertainties associated with using toxicity data from exotic species to protect unique indigenous species. Several related priority questions deal with the theme of how widely international ecotoxicological data and databases can be applied to regional ecosystems. Other timely questions, which focus on improving predictive chemistry and toxicology tools and techniques, will be important to answer several of the priority questions identified here. Another important question raised was how to protect local cultural and social values and maintain indigenous engagement during problem formulation and identification of ecosystem protection goals. Addressing these questions will be challenging, but doing so promises to advance environmental sustainability in Oceania and globally.

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Remediation of Eutrophic Aquatic Ecosystems: Evaluation of Phosphorus Adsorption by Sawdust

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 08:48
ABSTRACT

A wide range of anthropogenic activities have caused various problems to the aquatic environment, leading to economic, social and environmental losses. The use of materials for the recovery of water quality is very important due to the water scarcity scenario present in different parts of the world. The use of sawdust as an organic adsorbent for phosphorus removal in eutrophic environments attempts to address both water quality preservation and possible application of the organic adsorbent as fertilizer for agricultural practices. This will result in important contributions to the water and food security. In this work, we performed laboratory experiments to study phosphorus adsorption and to evaluate possible adsorption of metals and emerging contaminants by sawdust. The experiments were carried out in 36 microcosms (glass jars), using 50% of the flasks as treatments (containing bags with sawdust) and the rest of the flasks as control (water and sediment without sawdust). For future application of sawdust as a fertilizer it is important to be aware of the presence of possible pathogenic microorganisms, thus the presence of helminth eggs was determined in the sawdust. The results showed the tendency of phosphorus adsorption by the biosorbent; maximum adsorption occurred at 214 days (41 μg P g‐1), after the phosphorus desorption occurred. Helminth eggs were not detected in any of the sawdust samples and the proposed biosorbent did not adsorb metal and emerging contaminants, this result is important for future use for fertilization purposes.

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Remediation of Eutrophic Aquatic Ecosystems: Evaluation of Phosphorus Adsorption by Sawdust

Fri, 07/05/2019 - 08:48
ABSTRACT

A wide range of anthropogenic activities have caused various problems to the aquatic environment, leading to economic, social and environmental losses. The use of materials for the recovery of water quality is very important due to the water scarcity scenario present in different parts of the world. The use of sawdust as an organic adsorbent for phosphorus removal in eutrophic environments attempts to address both water quality preservation and possible application of the organic adsorbent as fertilizer for agricultural practices. This will result in important contributions to the water and food security. In this work, we performed laboratory experiments to study phosphorus adsorption and to evaluate possible adsorption of metals and emerging contaminants by sawdust. The experiments were carried out in 36 microcosms (glass jars), using 50% of the flasks as treatments (containing bags with sawdust) and the rest of the flasks as control (water and sediment without sawdust). For future application of sawdust as a fertilizer it is important to be aware of the presence of possible pathogenic microorganisms, thus the presence of helminth eggs was determined in the sawdust. The results showed the tendency of phosphorus adsorption by the biosorbent; maximum adsorption occurred at 214 days (41 μg P g‐1), after the phosphorus desorption occurred. Helminth eggs were not detected in any of the sawdust samples and the proposed biosorbent did not adsorb metal and emerging contaminants, this result is important for future use for fertilization purposes.

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Estimating the Mass of Chemicals Associated with Ocean Plastic Pollution to Inform Mitigation Efforts

Thu, 07/04/2019 - 09:28
ABSTRACT

Plastic pollution in the marine environment is well documented. What remains less recognized and understood are the chemicals associated with it. Plastics enter the ocean with unreacted monomers, oligomers, and additives, which can leach over time. Moreover, plastics sorb organic and inorganic chemicals from surrounding seawater, for example, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and metals. Thus, interception and cleanup of plastics reduces the amount of chemical contaminants entering or reentering the oceans and removes those already present. Here, we estimate 1) the mass of selected chemical additives entering the global oceans with common plastic debris items, and 2) the mass of sorbed chemicals (using PCBs as a case study) associated with microplastics in selected locations. We estimate the mass of additives that entered the oceans in 2015 as constituents of 7 common plastic debris items (bottles, bottle caps, expanded polystyrene (EPS) containers, cutlery, grocery bags, food wrappers, and straws or stirrers). We calculate that approximately 190 tonnes (t) of 20 chemical additives entered the oceans with these items in 2015. We also estimate the mass of PCBs associated with microplastics in 2 coastal (Hong Kong and Hawaii) and 2 open ocean (North Pacific and South Atlantic gyres) locations, as comparative case studies. We find that the mass of chemicals is related to the mass of plastics in a location, with greater mass of PCBs closer to the source (i.e., land), where there is more plastic per unit area compared to the open ocean. We estimate approximately 85 000 times more PCBs associated with plastics in an average 4.5‐km stretch of beach in Hong Kong than from the same size transect in the North Pacific gyre. In conclusion, continuing efforts for plastic interception and cleanup on shorelines effectively reduces the amount of plastic‐related chemicals entering and/or reentering the marine environment.

Overview of Existing Science to Inform Oil Sands Process Water Release: A Technical Workshop Summary

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 19:33
ABSTRACT

The extraction of oil sands from mining operations in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region uses an alkaline hot water extraction process. The oil sands process water (OSPW) is recycled to facilitate material transport (e.g., ore and tailings), process cooling, and is also reused in the extraction process. The industry has expanded since commercial mining began in 1967 and companies have been accumulating increasing inventories of OSPW. Short‐ and long‐term sustainable water management practices require the ability to return treated water to the environment. The safe release of OSPW needs to be based on sound science and engineering practices to ensure downstream protection of ecological and human health. A significant body of research has contributed to the understanding of the chemistry and toxicity of OSPW. A multistakeholder science workshop was held in September 2017 to summarize the state of science on the toxicity and chemistry of OSPW. The goal of the workshop was to review completed research in the areas of toxicology, chemical analysis, and monitoring to support the release of treated oil sands water. A key outcome from the workshop was identifying research needs to inform future water management practices required to support OSPW return. Another key outcome of the workshop was the recognition that methods are sufficiently developed to characterize chemical and toxicological characteristics of OSPW to address and close knowledge gaps. Industry, government, and local indigenous stakeholders have proceeded to utilize these insights in reviewing policy and regulations.

Empirically supported out‐of‐the‐box strategies for science communication by environmental scientists

Wed, 07/03/2019 - 19:32
ABSTRACT

Scientists are expected to communicate their research to a wide audience, while often lacking appreciable training. Environmental science poses many value‐laden and ethical questions. This necessitates the identification and use of specific strategies or guidelines, which encourage 2‐way communication and enable trust in both the experts and the scientific results. The objective of this paper is to give environmental scientists tools for effective science communication based on sound scientific evidence that does not require further specialization in communication studies. Using common scientific search engines in Europe, scientific communication literature that met specific parameters was identified. The summarized data contextualize the importance of science communication in environmental sciences but also highlight the need of scientists for communication experts to aid in establishing objectives for particularly complex topics and audiences. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2019;00:1–6. © 2019 SETAC

How specific is site‐specific? A review and guidance for selecting and evaluating approaches for deriving local water quality benchmarks

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 13:08
Abstract

Existing prescriptive guidance on the derivation of local water quality benchmarks (WQBs; e.g. guideline values, criteria, standards) for protecting aquatic ecosystems is limited to only three to four specific approaches. These approaches do not represent the full suite available for deriving local WQBs for multiple types of water quality‐related issues. The general lack of guidance is inconsistent with the need for, and benefits of, local WQBs, and can constrain the appropriate selection and subsequent evaluation of derivation approaches. Consequently, the defensibility of local WQBs may not be commensurate with the nature of the issues for which they are derived. Moreover, where local WQBs are incorporated into regulatory requirements, the lack of guidance presents a potential risk to the derivation of appropriate WQBs and achievement of desired environmental outcomes. This review addresses the deficiency in guidance by: (i) defining local WQBs and outlining initial considerations for deciding if one is required; (ii) summarising the existing regulatory context; (iii) summarising existing guidance, and identifying gaps; (iv) describing strengths, weaknesses and potential applications of a range of derivation approaches based on laboratory‐ and/or field data; and (v) presenting a conceptual framework for appropriately selecting and evaluating a derivation approach to best suit the need. The guidance incorporates an existing set of guiding principles for deriving local WQBs, and reinforces an existing categorisation of site‐adapted and site‐specific WQBs. The conceptual framework recognises the need to strike an appropriate balance between effort and ecological risk and, thus, embeds the concept of fit‐for‐purpose by considering both the significance of the issue being assessed, and the extent to which the approach provides confidence that the ecosystem will be appropriately protected. The guidance can be used by industry, regulators and others for both the a priori selection and post hoc evaluation of appropriate approaches for deriving local WQBs.

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

How specific is site‐specific? A review and guidance for selecting and evaluating approaches for deriving local water quality benchmarks

Mon, 07/01/2019 - 13:08
Abstract

Existing prescriptive guidance on the derivation of local water quality benchmarks (WQBs; e.g. guideline values, criteria, standards) for protecting aquatic ecosystems is limited to only three to four specific approaches. These approaches do not represent the full suite available for deriving local WQBs for multiple types of water quality‐related issues. The general lack of guidance is inconsistent with the need for, and benefits of, local WQBs, and can constrain the appropriate selection and subsequent evaluation of derivation approaches. Consequently, the defensibility of local WQBs may not be commensurate with the nature of the issues for which they are derived. Moreover, where local WQBs are incorporated into regulatory requirements, the lack of guidance presents a potential risk to the derivation of appropriate WQBs and achievement of desired environmental outcomes. This review addresses the deficiency in guidance by: (i) defining local WQBs and outlining initial considerations for deciding if one is required; (ii) summarising the existing regulatory context; (iii) summarising existing guidance, and identifying gaps; (iv) describing strengths, weaknesses and potential applications of a range of derivation approaches based on laboratory‐ and/or field data; and (v) presenting a conceptual framework for appropriately selecting and evaluating a derivation approach to best suit the need. The guidance incorporates an existing set of guiding principles for deriving local WQBs, and reinforces an existing categorisation of site‐adapted and site‐specific WQBs. The conceptual framework recognises the need to strike an appropriate balance between effort and ecological risk and, thus, embeds the concept of fit‐for‐purpose by considering both the significance of the issue being assessed, and the extent to which the approach provides confidence that the ecosystem will be appropriately protected. The guidance can be used by industry, regulators and others for both the a priori selection and post hoc evaluation of appropriate approaches for deriving local WQBs.

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Water quality monitoring to support cumulative effects assessment and decision‐making in the Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories, Canada

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 08:48
ABSTRACT

Project proponent‐ and government‐led environmental monitoring are required to identify, understand, and manage cumulative effects (CE); yet, such monitoring initiatives are rarely mutually supportive. Notwithstanding the need for a more integrated and complementary approach to monitoring, monitoring efforts are often less effective than intended for addressing cumulative effects. This paper examines current monitoring programs in the Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories, Canada, based on seven attributes: consistency, compatibility, observability, detectability, adaptability, accessibility, and usability. Results indicate a tenuous link between and across proponent‐led monitoring requirements under project‐specific water licenses, and government‐led monitoring of regional baseline conditions. There is some consistency in what is monitored, but data are often incompatible, insufficient to understand baseline change, not transferable across projects or scales, inaccessible to end users, and ultimately unsuitable to understanding cumulative effects. Lessons from the Mackenzie Valley highlight the need for improved alignment of monitoring efforts across programs and scales, characterized by a set of common parameters that are most useful for early detection of cumulative change and supporting regulatory decisions at the project scale. This must be accompanied by more open and accessible data for both proponents and regulators, while protecting the sensitivity of proprietary information. Importantly, there must be conceptual guidance for CE, such that the role of monitoring is clear, providing the types of CE questions to be asked, identifying the hypotheses to be tested, and ensuring timely and meaningful results to support regulatory decisions.

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