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Ecological Risk Assessment Advisory Group (ERAAG)
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Welcome. This site contains information about the activities of the Ecological Risk Assessment Advisory Group (or ERAAG), which is a part of SETAC, a worldwide organization. ERAAG members are principally members of SETAC but participation in ERAAG activities is open to all interested parties.

Chair: Wayne Munns (munns.wayne@epa.gov)
Co-chair: Mary Sorensen (msorensen@environcorp.com)
Newsletter: Beth Power (bpower@azimuthgroup.ca)
Web Site: Paige Leitman (PLeitman@environcorp.com)
EcoVaulation Workgroup: Ralph Stahl (Ralph.G.Stahl-Jr@usa.dupont.com)
Population ERA Workgroup: Larry Barnthouse (lwb.env@attglobal.net)
Precautionary Principle Workgroup: Hans Sanderson (hsander@uoguelph.ca)

The ERAAG has three main workgroups - EcoValuation, Population Ecological Risk Assessment, and the Precautionary Principle.


SCIENCE: to advance the science, practice and application of ecological risk assessment;

UNCERTAINTY: to reduce uncertainty in the process;

INSTITUTIONALIZATION: to promote the institutionalization of its use in environmental planning and assessments;

HARMONIZATION: and to encourage the harmonization of assessment methods worldwide.

The ERA Advisory Group's goals are to:

  • Maintain a long-range strategic plan for participation in the advancement of ecological risk assessment as a science;
  • Serve as focal point for identification, resolution and communication of ecological risk assessment issues;
  • Review and advise on project proposals;
  • Provide a neutral platform for collaborative evaluation of scientific issues by diverse groups of stakeholders; and
  • Stimulate critical evaluation, validation and transfer of ERA technologies among the stakeholders.



This column covers current international news and activities related to ecological risk assessment. Aside from the contributions of ERAAG committees, many of these articles are gleaned from newsletters, list servers, websites etc. and those sources are gratefully acknowledged. In addition, if you come across something you think others would want to know about, drop me an email. In particular, readers want to hear about new ecorisk guidance and what is up-and-coming in ecorisk activities.

New Guidance and Regulations

Scientific issues in the risk assessment of metals – US EPA

A series of papers has been developed in support of an ongoing effort within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop an integrated framework for metals risk assessment. In September 2002, a cross-Agency technical panel discussed plans for the development of the framework and associated guidance with the Agency's Science Advisory Board (SAB). During the advisory, the SAB affirmed the importance of incorporating external input into the Agency's effort. As part of the effort to engage stakeholders and the scientific community and to build on existing experience, the Agency commissioned external experts to lead the development of papers on issues and state-of-the-art approaches in metals risk assessment for several key topics. Topics identified include: environmental chemistry; exposure; ecological effects; human health effects; and bioavailability and bioaccumulation. (Some individual EPA experts contributed specific discussions on topic(s) for which he or she has either specific expertise or knowledge of current Agency practice). Although Agency technical staff, as well as representatives from other Federal agencies, reviewed and commented on previous drafts, the comments were addressed at the discretion of each respective author or group of authors. Therefore, the views expressed are those of the authors and should not be construed as implying EPA consent or endorsement. The topics covered include:

  • Issue paper on the bioavailability and bioaccumulation of metals (draft)
  • Issue paper on the ecological effects of metals (draft)
  • Issue paper on metal exposure assessment (draft)
  • Issue paper on the environmental chemistry of metals (draft)
  • Issue paper on the human health effects of metals (draft)

You can view the papers at http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/raf/recordisplay.cfm?deid=59052.

The draft papers were made available for public comment (to November 7 2003) consistent with EPA's commitment to provide opportunities for external input. Science-based comments received on these papers will be made available to authors for final disposition.

ERA outputs from research by Metals in the Environment Research Network

A key objective of the Metals in the Environment Research (MITE) Research Network is to improve ERA for metals. MITE adopted the ERA model for the Network, specifically developing projects in three main ERA components (termed domains within MITE-RN): Hazard Identification (Sources); Exposure Assessment (Processes); and Effects Assessment (Impacts). In the ERA model, these three components are integrated into Risk Characterisation, to assess the probability of risk. Risk Characterisation is the joint responsibility of Peter Chapman (EVS Environment Consultants) and Peter Campbell (Network Principal Investigator). One of the major ERA accomplishments in Year 4 has been the development of a comprehensive synthesis of the ERA implications of each MITE-RN project, in tabular form.

This compilation provides a concise summary of the ERA implications of each project, and identifies how the new research findings may/should change the way ecological risk assessments are performed for metals. The summary table is regularly updated as new results become available.

Environment Agency (England and Wales) – ERA Consultation

The Environment Agency is inviting anyone with expertise in performing Environmental Risk Assessments (ERAs) to take part in a public consultation on a proposed Framework and methods for assessing how chemical contaminants in the soil pose risks to ecosystems.

ERA is a relatively new approach in the UK to quantifying the risk of significant harm to organisms and their ecosystems, but it is already a requirement of a number of regulatory regimes, such as Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Habitats Directive. The Agency has launched this consultation to ensure that its proposed Framework encodes the best available science into a coherent and practical procedure to protect our environment.

The consultation was launched on 11 December 2003 and runs until 31 March 2004. The mechanism for consultation, the technical aspects of the proposed Framework and a subset of suitable tests are available on-line at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/yourenv/consultations/current_consultations/

The consultation documents comprises four components: a tiered framework for determining the risk of harm to defined eco-receptors on contaminated land; definitions and quantitative criteria for harm; soil screening values; and biological and ecotoxicological tests for measuring harm.

The consultation involves two types of collaboration: first, with peer reviewers, who are invited to use their expertise to comment on the proposed framework between now and the end of March 2004; second, with partners, who will use and comment on the proposed framework on their own sites during the next year. The Agency will use the information from the consultation to refine the proposed framework, which it will validate by mid-2005.

Your response and any queries should be directed to Samantha Fishwick, Soil Quality & Protection Team, Bristol, UK.

E: samantha.fishwick@environment-agency.gov.uk
T: +44 (0)117 914 2902
F: +44 (0)117 914 2929

Effects Assessment

Additional Scientific Reviews of Herbicide Atrazine Completed

In January 2003, EPA issued an "Interim Re-registration Eligibility Decision” for the widely-used pesticide atrazine, culminating a multi-year assessment. Specific risk mitigation measures were described for potential human health concerns, however the document committed to future development of measures for mitigating ecological risks. As a follow-up, an addendum to the January document was released on October 31 2003. The addendum discusses ecological monitoring and risk mitigation within sensitive watersheds, the most current scientific information regarding potential effects of atrazine on amphibians. Specifically to target monitoring of ecologically vulnerable watersheds, the manufacturers of atrazine are required to monitor residue levels in 40 indicator watersheds that are representative of watersheds that may be vulnerable to contamination where atrazine is regularly used. Go to: http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/reregistration/atrazine/atrazineadd.pdf for more information. (Source, EPA Press Advisory10/31/03)

Opportunities and Events

EPA – On-line ecological risk assessment training

This website is intended to teach those relatively new to ERA about ecological risk assessment step by step, allowing viewers to go as deep as they want to into resource materials. The website has a quick reference "what is ecological risk assessment?” introductory section, five course modules, and interactive components. This training is based on the EPA's Guidelines for Ecological Risk Assessment. Go to: http://www.erg.com/portfolio/elearn/ecorisk/html/

E-mail the ERAAG webmaster: pleitman@environcorp.com