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From the Biological Effect to Regulation: How can New Approaches in Substance Evaluation Help?

On 11 and 12 March 2019, a workshop on the risk assessment of substances in the aquatic environment took place at the University of Tübingen.
Juvenile Bachforelle

In the risk assessment of substances for the aquatic environment, efficacy tests are currently investigating apical parameters such as mortality, immobilization of organisms or their growth and reproduction after relatively short-term exposure to single substances. Specific as well as direct and indirect effects of chronic stress remain largely or totally unconsidered. These can influence the resilience of organisms and only have a long-term impact on populations. Also neglected are topics such as mixture toxicity, pulse load or effects of transformation products as well as formulations.

Whether and to what extent such long-term subtle effects influence the worldwide decline of species in aquatic (and terrestrial) ecosystems is poorly known. Within the framework of the workshop, current results on these topics were presented and ways to integrate them into the process of substance approval were discussed. Furthermore, the suitability of in vitro systems for the detection of organismic effects was discussed. Special attention was given to the concept of Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOP) as it has already found its way into substance regulation in the US. In this workshop, scientists discussed with regional, national and international authorities which data in Germany or the EU should be considered. In addition, the topic area was considered in the context of legal and ethical obligation for the preventive protection of humans and the environment.

The workshop was organized by the team of the project Effect-Net at the University of Tübingen.