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How to use mechanistic effect models in environmental risk assessment of pesticides: Case studies and recommendations from the SETAC workshop MODELINK

: Hommen, Udo; Forbes, Valery; Grimm, Volker; Preuss, Thomas G.; Thorbek, Pernille; Ducrot, Verginie

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Integrated environmental assessment and management 12 (2016), No.1, pp.21-31
ISSN: 1551-3777
ISSN: 1551-3793
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IME ()
ecological risk assessment; plant protection products; mechanistic effect model; population model; TK-TD model

Mechanistic effect models (MEMs) are useful tools for ecological risk assessment of chemicals to complement experimentation. However, currently no recommendations exist for how to use them in risk assessments. Therefore, the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) MODELINK workshop aimed at providing guidance for when and how to apply MEMs in regulatory risk assessments. The workshop focused on risk assessment of plant protection products under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 using MEMs at the organism and population levels. Realistic applications of MEMs were demonstrated in 6 case studies covering assessments for plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. From the case studies and their evaluation, 12 recommendations on the future use of MEMs were formulated, addressing the issues of how to translate specific protection goals into workable questions, how to select species and scenarios to be modeled, and where and how to fit MEMs into current and future risk assessment schemes. The most important recommendations are that protection goals should be made more quantitative; the species to be modeled must be vulnerable not only regarding toxic effects but also regarding their life history and dispersal traits; the models should be as realistic as possible for a specific risk assessment question, and the level of conservatism required for a specific risk assessment should be reached by designing appropriately conservative environmental and exposure scenarios; scenarios should include different regions of the European Union (EU) and different crops; in the long run, generic MEMs covering relevant species based on representative scenarios should be developed, which will require EU-level joint initiatives of all stakeholders involved. The main conclusion from the MODELINK workshop is that the considerable effort required for making MEMs an integral part of environmental risk assessment of pesticides is worthwhile, because it will make risk assessments not only more ecologically relevant and less uncertain but also more comprehensive, coherent, and cost effective.


This is 1 of 6 articles reporting on the results of a SETAC technical workshop entitled "MODELINK: How to use ecological effect models to link ecotoxicological tests to protection goals," held in Le Croisic, France, in October 2012 and in Monschau, Germany, in April 2013. The main objective of the workshop was to provide case studies and recommendations relating to the application of mechanistic effects models in environmental risk assessment of pesticides. Models, species, and criteria used in MODELINK should be viewed as examples serving the purpose of illustrating how such models could be used for solving specific risk assessment issues.