Bioaccumulation data from laboratory and field studies: Are they comparable?
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Once they are released into the environment, a number of chemicals are known to bioaccumulate in organisms, sometimes to concentrations that may threaten the individual or their predators. However, use of physical or chemical properties or results from laboratory bioaccumulation tests to predict concentrations sometimes found in wild organisms remains a challenge. How well laboratory studies and field measurements agree or disagree, and the cause of any discrepancies, is a subject of great interest and discussion from both a scientific and a regulatory perspective. A workshop sponsored by the ILSI Health and Environmental Sciences Institute, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry assembled scientists from academia, industry, and government to compare and contrast laboratory and field bioaccumulation data. The results of this workshop are summarized in a series of 5 articles published in this issue of Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management. The articles describe: 1) a weight-of-evidence approach that uses fugacity ratios to bring field measurements into the assessment of biomagnification potential for legacy chemicals; 2) a detailed comparison between laboratory and field data for the most commonly measured bioaccumulation endpoint, the biota-sediment accumulation factor; 3) a study that identifies and quantifies the differences between laboratory and field metrics of bioaccumulation for aquatic and terrestrial organisms; and 4) 2 reports on trophic magnification factors: the 1st addresses how trophic magnification factors are determined and interpreted and the 2nd describes how they could be used in regulatory assessments. Collectively, these articles present the workshop participants' current understanding and assessment of bioaccumulation science and make a number of recommendations on how to improve the collection and interpretation of bioaccumulation data.
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