Species in the aquatic environment differ in their toxicological sensitivity to the various chemicals they encounter. In aquatic risk assessment, this interspecies variation is often quantified via species sensitivity distributions. Because the information available for the characterization of these distributions is typically limited, optimal use of information is essential to reduce uncertainty involved in the assessment. In the present study, we show that the credibility intervals on the estimated potentially affected fraction of species after exposure to a mixture of chemicals at environmentally relevant surface water concentrations can be extremely wide if a classical approach is followed, in which each chemical in the mixture is considered in isolation. As an alternative, we propose a hierarchical Bayesian approach, in which knowledge on the toxicity of chemicals other than those assessed is incorporated. A case study with a mixture of 13 pharmaceuticals demonstrates that this hierarchical approach results in more realistic estimations of the potentially affected fraction, as a result of reduced uncertainty in species sensitivity distributions for data-poor chemicals.
- SPECIES-SENSITIVITY DISTRIBUTIONS
- POTENTIALLY AFFECTED FRACTION
- NOEC TOXICITY DATA
- MONITORING CONVERGENCE
- ECOLOGICAL RISK