Environmental fate and exposure models: advances and challenges in 21st century chemical risk assessment
Environmental fate and exposure models are a powerful means to integrate information on chemicals, their partitioning and degradation behaviour, the environmental scenario and the emissions in order to compile a picture of chemical distribution and fluxes in the multimedia environment. A 1995 pioneering book, resulting from a series of workshops among model developers and users, reported the main advantages and identified needs for research in the field of multimedia fate models. Considerable efforts were devoted to their improvement in the past 25 years and many aspects were refined; notably the inclusion of nanomaterials among the modelled substances, the development of models at different spatial and temporal scales, the estimation of chemical properties and emission data, the incorporation of additional environmental media and processes, the integration of sensitivity and uncertainty analysis in the simulations. However, some challenging issues remain and require research efforts and attention: the need of methods to estimate partition coefficients for polar and ionizable chemical in the environment, a better description of bioavailability in different environments as well as the requirement of injecting more ecological realism in exposure predictions to account for the diversity of ecosystem structures and functions in risk assessment. Finally, to transfer new scientific developments into the realm of regulatory risk assessment, we propose the formation of expert groups that compare, discuss and recommend model modifications and updates and help develop practical tools for risk assessment.
- This article is part of the themed collections: Best Papers 2018 – Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts and Modeling in Environmental Chemistry