Do environmental dynamics matter in fate models? Exploring scenario dynamics for a terrestrial and an aquatic system†
Nowadays, there is growing interest in inserting more ecological realism into risk assessment of chemicals. On the exposure evaluation side, this can be done by studying the complexity of exposure in the ecosystem, niche partitioning, e.g. variation of the exposure scenario. Current regulatory predictive approaches, to ensure simplicity and predictive ability, generally keep the scenario as static as possible. This could lead to under or overprediction of chemical exposure depending on the chemical and scenario simulated. To account for more realistic exposure conditions, varying temporally and spatially, additional scenario complexity should be included in currently used models to improve their predictive ability. This study presents two case studies (a terrestrial and an aquatic one) in which some polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were simulated with the SoilPlusVeg and ChimERA models to show the importance of scenario variation in time (biotic and abiotic compartments). The results outlined the importance of accounting for planetary boundary layer variation and vegetation dynamics to accurately predict air concentration changes and the timing of chemical dispersion from the source in terrestrial systems. For the aquatic exercise, the results indicated the need to account for organic carbon forms (particulate and dissolved organic carbon) and vegetation biomass dynamics. In both cases the range of variation was up to two orders of magnitude depending on the congener and scenario, reinforcing the need for incorporating such knowledge into exposure assessment.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Modeling in Environmental Chemistry