Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Chapter or Section
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8291
Type of Book: Technical
Section or Chapter Title: Ecotoxicological Risk of Mixtures
Book Title: Aquatic ecotoxicology: Advancing tools for dealing with emerging risks
Author: C. A. Laetz, S. A. Hecht, J. P. Incardona, T. K. Collier, N. L. Scholz
Editor: Claude Amiard-Triquet, Jean-Claude Amiard, Catherine Mouneyrac (Eds.)
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Academic Press
Keywords: Ecological risk assessment, oil spills, stormwater, non-point source pollution, pesticides, synergism, high-throughput screening, habitat, environmental monitoring,ecological risk assessment,oil spills,Stormwater runoff,pesticides

Water pollution is a global environmental challenge that nearly always involves the degradation of aquatic habitats by mixtures of chemical contaminants. Despite this practical reality, environmental regulations and resource management institutions in most countries are inadequate to the task of addressing complex and dynamic combinations of chemicals. Moreover, our scientific understanding of mixture toxicity and the assessment of corresponding risks to aquatic species and communities have not kept pace with worldwide declines in biodiversity or the introduction of thousands of new chemicals into societal use. In this chapter we review recent research specific to mixtures in three contexts that are broadly applicable to freshwater and marine ecosystems. These include oil spills, urban non-point source pollution, and the agricultural use of modern pesticides.  Each of these familiar and geographically extensive forcing pressures is threaded with uncertainty about interactions between contaminants in mixtures. We also briefly consider relevant and often overlapping environmental regulations in the United States and Europe, to illustrate why a proactive consideration of chemical mixtures remains elusive in institutional ecological risk assessment. As the case examples show, however, the problem of mixtures is not intractable and targeted research can guide effective conservation and restoration strategies in a chemically complex world.


Theme: Habitats to Support Sustainable Fisheries and Recovered Populations
Foci: Assess the impacts of toxic chemicals and other pollutants across biological scales, and identify pollution reduction strategies that improve habitat quality.
Official Citation:

Laetz, C.A., Hecht, S.A., Incardona, J.P., Collier, T.K., and Scholz, N.L. 2015. Ecological risk of mixtures. In: Aquatic ecotoxicology: advancing tools for dealing with emerging risks. C. Amiard-Triquet, J.-C. Amiard, and C. Mouneyrac (eds). Academic Press, pp. 441-462.