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Publications: Water/Wastewater Assessments

Papers & ReportsWater/Wastewater Assessments2016

Eco-epidemiology of aquatic ecosystems: Separating chemicals from multiple stressors

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A non-toxic environment and a good ecological status are policy goals guiding research and management of chemicals and surface water systems in Europe and elsewhere. Research and policies on chemicals and water are however still disparate and unable to evaluate the relative ecological impacts of chemical mixtures and other stressors. This paper defines and explores the use of eco-epidemiological analysis of surveillance monitoring data sets via a proxy to quantify mixture impacts on ecosystems. Case studies show examples of different, progressive steps that are possible.

Case study data were obtained for various regions in Europe and the United States. Data types relate to potential stressors at various scales, concerning landscape, land-use, in-stream physico-chemical and pollutant data, and data on fish and invertebrates. The proxy-values for mixture impacts were quantified as predicted (multi-substance) Potentially Affected Fractions of species (msPAF), using Species Sensitivity Distribution (SSD) models in conjunction with bioavailability and mixture models.

The case studies summarize the monitoring data sets and the subsequent diagnostic bioassessments. Variation in mixture toxic pressures amongst sites appeared to covary with abundance changes in large (50-86%) percentages of taxa for the various study regions. This shows that an increased mixture toxic pressure (msPAF) relates to increased ecological impacts. Subsequent multi-stressor evaluations resulted in statistically significant, site-specific diagnosis of the magnitudes of ecological impacts and the relative contributions of different stress factors to those impacts. This included both mixtures and individual chemicals. These results allow for ranking stressors, sites and impacted species groups. That is relevant information for water management.

The case studies are discussed in relation to policy and management strategies that support reaching a non-toxic environment and good ecological status. Reaching these goals requires not only focused sectoral policies, such as on chemical- or water management, but also an overarching and solution-focused view.

Posthuma, L., Dyer, S.D., de Zwart, D., Kapo, K.E., Holmes, C.M., Burton Jr., G.A. (2016), Eco-epidemiology of aquatic ecosystems: Separating chemicals from multiple stressors. Science of The Total Environment, Volume 573, 1303-1319.
doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.06.242

Papers & ReportsHome and Personal Care Products, Human Pharmaceuticals, Water/Wastewater Assessments2015

A framework for screening sites at risk from contaminants of emerging concern

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Trace levels of a variety of currently unregulated organic chemicals have been detected in treated wastewater effluents and surface waters that receive treated effluents. Many of these chemicals of emerging concern (CECs) originate from pharmaceuticals and personal care products that are used widely and that frequently are transported “down the drain” to a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). Actual effects of CECs on aquatic life have been difficult to document, although biological effects consistent with effects of some CECs have been noted. There is a critical need to find appropriate ways to screen wastewater sites that have the greatest potential of CEC risk to biota. Building on the work of several researchers, the authors present a screening framework, as well as examples based on the framework, designed to identify high‐risk versus lower‐risk sites that are influenced by WWTP effluent. It is hoped that this framework can help researchers, utilities, and the larger water resource community focus efforts toward improving CEC risk determinations and management of these risks.

Diamond, J., Munkittrick, K., Kapo, K.E., Flippin, J. (2015), A framework for screening sites at risk from contaminants of emerging concern. Environ Toxicol Chem. 34: 2671-2681. doi:10.1002/etc.3177

PostersWater/Wastewater Assessments2018

Influence of particle size on prospectively modeled environmental concentrations of microplastics in the Sandusky River watershed

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Abstract:
The presence of nano- and microplastics (MPs; particles < 5 mm) in the aquatic environment is a topic of increasing discussion and research. Although measurement and monitoring data are indispensable, there is a need to prospectively estimate concentrations to enable forward-looking assessments and to guide analysis of retrospective ecological analyses. For traditional chemicals, fate and exposure models have been proven to be very helpful and are widely used. However, to date few models exist that simulate the transport and fate of MPs in freshwater systems. This presentation presents simulations of the transport and fate of various-sized MPs emitted from wastewater treatment plants into freshwater riverine systems, and tracks concentrations moving downstream from headwater into Lake Erie. We linked the NanoDUFLOW model (a detailed MP aggregation-sedimentation model integrated in a hydrological and particle transport model) with iSTREEM® (developed to estimate chemical concentration distributions for all rivers receiving WWTP discharges in the US) for a range of particle sizes. This combines the mechanistic realism of NanoDUFLOW, accounting for formation and settling of heteroaggregates, with the US well-established iSTREEM implementation. Depth dependent in-stream first order removal rate constants simulated with NanoDUFLOW were combined with standard iSTREEM output which simulated the emission, transport and water column concentrations of different MP sizes. We modeled floating as well as non-buoyant MP, for sizes ranging from 100 nm to 1000 µm. We also modeled a combined mixture of particle sizes based on effluent measurements from Mason et al (2016). Simulations were spatially explicit with MP concentrations being modeled for the Sandusky River watershed in Ohio containing over 300 miles of river downstream of 20 WWTPs. Modelling results show the effects of population density, MP size and environmental conditions on riverine concentrations and export to Lake Erie. Buoyant as well as the smallest non-buoyant MP fractions can be transported over long distances, reaching receiving waters such as the Great Lakes. In contrast, larger non-buoyant MPs settle more locally in the vicinity of the WWTPs.

Christopher Holmes (Waterborne Environmental), Albert Koelmans (Wageningen University), Scott Dyer (Waterborne Environmental). Influence of particle size on prospectively modeled environmental concentrations of microplastics in the Sandusky River watershed. Poster SETAC 2018. Sacramento, CA.

PostersWater/Wastewater Assessments2018

Development of a spatially resolved global mean annual flow dataset for use in environmental risk assessment: A case study for China

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Abstract:
Environmental exposure models for chemicals used widely across large geographic areas and disposed of down the drain are important tools for informing ecological risk assessments. One important element of these models is understanding the dilution of wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent into the receiving stream (dilution factors) which allows for the estimation of in-stream environmental concentrations based on either estimated flow of receiving waters. In the U.S., the iSTREEM model (American Cleaning Institute) estimates dilution of WWTP effluent into receiving streams through the incorporation of a spatial hydrologic network with associated flow data (National Hydrography Dataset Plus) into the exposure model to spatially associate (and route) local WWTP emissions with corresponding local flows. A similar approach for generating localized dilution factors can be employed on the global scale to integrate the chemical emissions component of the model with a hydrologically-connected global river network with associated flow values. The HydroSHEDS and HydroBASINS datasets (Lehner et al. 2008 and 2013) provide a global hydrology dataset that can be used as a spatial hydrologic framework, including a network of streams and rivers and watershed and catchment boundaries. However, flow estimates corresponding to the global river network are a critical attribute that must still be incorporated for exposure modeling. Using China as a case study, a mean annual flow dataset to correspond with the HydroSHEDS and HydroBASINS global data was developed using the well-established Curve Number (CN) approach developed by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA). The CN approach integrates environmental and landscape features including best available and high-resolution precipitation, soils, and land use characteristics to estimate surface runoff over the land area. The high-resolution runoff grid was spatially combined with hydrology datasets to derive flow estimates across a river network. Global datasets were utilized for model parameters so that the approach could be extrapolated to the global scale, while also providing the flexibility to incorporate best-available data. This presentation will provide a detailed overview of the runoff methodology, validation against measured flow data, and the resulting river flow dataset for China.

Raghu Vamshi, Katherine Kapo, Amy Ritter, Brian Kearns (Waterborne Environmental), and Kathleen McDonough (Procter & Gamble). Development of a spatially resolved global mean annual flow dataset for use in environmental risk assessment: A case study for China. Poster SETAC 2018. Sacramento, CA.

PostersWater/Wastewater Assessments2018

Development of a global environmental exposure modeling framework for risk assessment of chemicals disposed down the drain: A case study for China

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Abstract:
Environmental exposure assessment of chemicals that are disposed down the drain (such as consumer product ingredients) at the global scale within a consistent and accessible framework has remained a challenge over the years, despite advancements in exposure modeling and global and local data resources. Historically, assessment efforts have been tailored and applied to specific geographies and used simplistic approaches rather than to build a spatially resolved global assessment infrastructure. Challenges such as inconsistent, scarce, or rapidly-evolving data resources, particularly for developing countries where assessment needs are high, have further complicated the evolution of spatially resolved global exposure assessment tools. However, through strategic integration of existing global data resources and established modeling tools, a standardized framework and methodology for GIS-based exposure modeling can be developed for the global scale. In this study, we present a spatially resolved global environmental exposure model approach designed to incorporate best-available data and modeling tools, using China as a case study. The global hydrology network from HydroSHEDS and HydroBASINS (Lehner et al. 2008 and 2013), global river flow and population estimates, and best-available country-specific water use and wastewater treatment information were integrated with the GIS-ROUT exposure model (Wang et al. 2005) and iSTREEM® model framework (American Cleaning Institute) to provide a means of estimating the distribution of concentrations of a chemical disposed down the drain across a river network based on chemical production volume and consumer usage estimates. Both wastewater treatment plant effluent and direct discharge are accounted for by the model through estimation of catchment-specific emissions. The spatial nature of the model provides a robust means for estimating variability in environmental exposures. Details of the various model components and generated output for China are overviewed, as well as considerations and discussion regarding on-going extrapolation to the global scale. The framework developed as part of this model is highly adaptable to countries with an abundance of data (e.g., North America, Western Europe, etc.) or those scarce with data (e.g., developing countries) available to parametrize the model.

Kathleen McDonough (Procter & Gamble), Katherine Kapo (Waterborne Environmental), and Raghu Vamshi (Waterborne Environmental). Development of a global environmental exposure modeling framework for risk assessment of chemicals disposed down the drain: A case study for China. Poster SETAC 2018. Sacramento, CA.

PostersWater/Wastewater Assessments2018

A new tool for the toolbox: Predicting multi-pathway emission and fate of contaminants entering freshwater systems in Europe

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Abstract:
Exposure models help to prospectively assess the potential for ecological exposures from releases of substances into the environment. Availability of newer data, increasing computing power and improved methods provide continuing opportunity to improve our ability to predict environmental exposures through models and add to our “toolbox”. We present a new model designed to encompass multi-pathway environmental emissions coupled with environmental fate components, contained in a modular and transparent framework which is scalable and portable to multiple geographies. This spatially-explicit model (presented here for Europe) is based on publicly available datasets, combined with a hydrologic framework containing geographically variable emissions linked to a river network simulating environmental transport via surface water. The hydrologic framework is based on a set of basins and rivers (WWF HydroSHEDs) linked to emission characteristics for each sub-basin (more than 37,000 in the EU-30). Emissions characteristics are derived from point-source wastewater data (EEA Waterbase) as well as diffuse source inputs, accounting for the potential of urban storm water runoff or other overland flow constituents. Concentrations of contaminants are routed through the river network based on local river attributes combined with assumptions about chemical fate in the aquatic environment. Multi-year, high-resolution data on river flow (FLO1K) are leveraged for an expanded set of possible modeling scenarios. Transparency is critical for model understanding and acceptance. Model documentation follows standard documentation protocol proposed by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) as described in the 2016 CEN workshop: “Promoting the acceptance and use of chemical exposure models through transparent documentation”. Several scenarios will be presented covering different use/emission situations and substance fate characteristics, including the relative importance of different emission pathways (e.g., down-the-drain, urban storm water, land-based diffuse runoff) and environmental media. While the presented material is an example of environmental emission and fate of different substances, it represents a working framework implemented for Europe with viable application to other geographies.

Christopher Holmes, Joshua Amos, Amy Ritter, and Marty Williams (Waterborne Environmental). A new tool for the toolbox: Predicting multi-pathway emission and fate of contaminants entering freshwater systems in Europe. Poster SETAC 2018. Sacramento, CA.

PresentationsCrop Protection, Water/Wastewater Assessments2018

Atrazine Ecological Monitoring Program: Study design and conduct

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Room: Ballroom East – Theater 4
Date: Monday August 22, 2018
Start Time: 8:35AM
Presentation Code: AGRO 228

Abstract:
A high sampling frequency watershed monitoring program, Atrazine Ecological Monitoring Program (AEMP), which began in 2004, has collected over 28,000 water samples representing 284 site years from 75 watersheds across 13 states in the Midwest and the South. The AEMP consists of compliance-based, targeted monitoring in small watershed (< 40 mi2) headwater streams, and is designed to identify environmental conditions in corn and sorghum agricultural watersheds that are susceptible to high surface runoff potential. The AEMP sampling design captured atrazine runoff events following chemical applications to corn and sorghum agriculture when residue levels in the receiving stream are expected to be at their maximum. The breadth of atrazine concentration data from water samples accompanied by watershed characteristics, meteorological data and agronomic data provide a comprehensive understanding of atrazine transport mechanism. The AEMP monitoring data quantifies the upper 20th centile of potential aquatic exposure to atrazine in corn and sorghum growing areas in the United States. The presentation will provide an overview of the site selection process, study design, sample and data collection process, and a summary of important findings.

Jennifer Trask, Les Carver, Megan Cox, Kate Marincic (Waterborne Environmental), Sun Mao Chen (Syngenta Crop Protection). Atrazine Ecological Monitoring Program: Study design and conduct. ACS 2018. Presentation. Boston, MA.

PresentationsCrop Protection, Water/Wastewater Assessments2018

Interpreting water quality monitoring observations through modeling: PRZM/SWAT and SEAWAVE-Q

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Room: Ballroom East – Theater 4
Date: Wednesday August 22, 2018
Start Time: 10:35AM
Presentation Code: AGRO 231

Abstract:
Water quality monitoring data, specifically pesticides, can represent best-available exposure profiles related to ecological risk assessment; however, there are challenges in synthesizing these data toward making strong conclusions about the nature of the potential range of risk. Some of these challenges include: data collection frequency, monitoring period duration, interpreting exposure profiles from one location to another, and monitoring system scale. To address these challenges, statistical approaches may be applied to characterize empirical trends. Additionally, process-based numerical systems modeling approaches can offer a different perspective on synthesis and interpretation of monitoring data. A comparison of a statistical and process-based numerical model was conducted to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of representing, synthesizing, and conclusions from monitoring data. This comparison was developed from pesticide measurements of six intensively-monitored HUC12 headwater watersheds in the Midwest. SEAWAVE-Q is a regression model that incorporates a linear trend term, covariates accounting for seasonality, and a transformation of flow to represent a long-term pesticide trend at a specific monitoring location. PRZM/SWAT (pesticide root zone model/soil water assessment tool) is a spatially-distributed hydrologic and chemical transport numerical model that combines upland chemical and hydrologic processes from PRZM and stream flow and chemical transport processes from SWAT. The predictive quality and limitations of these two models was assessed against observed, daily concentration measurements as well as hypothetical data collection frequency and timing (derived from sub-sampling the same data sets). Results suggest that a process-based modeling approach, such as PRZM/SWAT, may be more advantageous when calibration data are available.

Daniel Perkins, Andy Jacobson, Colleen Roy, Farah Abi-Akar (Waterborne Environmental), Wenlin Chen (Syngenta Crop Protection). Interpreting water quality monitoring observations through modeling: PRZM/SWAT and SEAWAVE-Q. ACS 2018. Presentation. Boston, MA.

PresentationsWater/Wastewater Assessments2018

Modelling Microplastics in Rivers in the US (339)

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Abstract:
Pollution with nano- and microplastics (MPs; particles < 5 mm) is a topic of emerging concern and as such receives growing interest. Although measurement and monitoring data are indispensable, there also is a need for estimated concentrations to enable prospective assessments and to guide analysis of retrospective ecological analyses. Besseling et al (2017) provided the NanoDUFLOW model, a detailed MP aggregation-sedimentation model integrated in a hydrological and particle transport model. A much larger scale model potentially suitable to simulate MPs originating from WWTPs is the iSTREEM® model, which has been developed to estimate chemical concentration distributions for all rivers and streams of the USA receiving WWTP discharges. Here we merge these two riverine modeling worlds: NanoDUFLOW with iSTREEM for MPs, to simulate spreading of MPs from WWTP point sources in US waterways and to assess export to the Great Lakes for a range of particle sizes. This combines the mechanistic realism of NanoDUFLOW, accounting for formation and settling of heteroaggregates, with the US well-established iSTREEM implementation. We modeled floating as well as non-buoyant MP, for diverse sizes, from 100 nm to 10 mm, a range that incorporates the theoretical parabolic size-settling relationship reported by Besseling et al (2017). Depth dependent in-stream first order removal rate constants simulated with NanoDUFLOW were combined with standard iSTREEM output (which was used to simulate the emission, transport and water column concentrations of MP) in an Excel-based post-processing phase, without modifing the iSTREEM model directly. Simulations were spatially explicit with MP concentrations being modeled for the Sandusky River watershed in Ohio (~3500 km2). Emissions were based on per capita usage and population served for each of the 20 WWTPs within the watershed. Modelling results show the effects of population density, MP size and density on riverine concentrations and export to Lake Erie. Buoyant as well as the smallest non-buoyant MP fractions can be transported over long distances, reaching receiving waters such as the Great Lakes. In contrast, larger non-buoyant MPs settle more locally in the vicinity of the WWTPs. Simulating depth-dependent removal as demonstrated here could be incorporated into the core iSTREEM code in order to efficiently process all US waterways impacted by WWTPs, as well as examining ultimate marine discharge proportions by particle size.

A. Koelmans (Wageningen University); C.M. Holmes (Waterborne Environmental). Modelling Microplastics in Rivers in the US. SETAC EU 2018. Presentation.

PresentationsWater/Wastewater Assessments2017

Prospective Aquatic Risk Assessment for Mixed Land Use Catchments: A Tool to Combine Multi-Source Chemical Emissions Over Time

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SETAC Session Title:  Improving the Environmental Assessment of Complex Composition Substances and Mixtures for Chemicals Management
Presentation Date: Thursday November 16, 2017
Presentation Time: 3:40 PM
Location: Session Room 101BI

Abstract:
In 2015, a SETAC Pellston® workshop was held to help inform decision making around aquatic mixture risk assessments of chemicals using exposure scenarios for agricultural, domestic, and urban scenarios. Prospective emissions of 37 chemicals were estimated and combined into daily mixture profiles over a 10-year period. The mixture risk assessment looked at daily individual substance risk quotients (RQs) and multiple substance ∑RQ (assuming concentration addition), along with implementation of the Maximum Cumulative Ratio (MCR) approach. Risk was examined at the bottom of a hypothetical catchment containing a changeable configuration of sub-catchments defined by three land use types (agricultural, city [domestic + urban], natural).  An underlying spreadsheet-based model was developed to integrate daily loadings of individual chemicals from each sub-catchment, combined with a simplified hydrologic model, to produce a time series of mixture profiles at the catchment outlet.  Catchment configuration is changed by varying the placement, type and number of sub-catchments in the system.  Model results show a high spatio-temporal variability of individual chemical concentrations and their mixtures based on catchment configuration. Even constant emissions of household chemicals showed variability in concentration related to river flow driven by rain events. The outcome of the overall Pellston study demonstrated that a scenario-based approach can be used to determine whether mixtures of chemicals pose risks over and above any identified using existing approaches for single chemicals, how often and to what magnitude, and ultimately which mixtures (and dominant chemicals) cause greatest concern.  In this talk focusing on the underlying catchment model, mixture risk results for different catchment configurations will be presented.

Christopher Holmes (Waterborne Environmental), Colin Brown (University of York), Dick De Zwart (Mermayde), Jerome Diamond (Tetra Tech), Scott Dyer (The Procter & Gamble Company), Stuart Marshall (Unilever), Leo Posthuma (RIVM; Radboud University). Prospective Aquatic Risk Assessment for Mixed Land Use Catchments: A Tool to Combine Multi-Source Chemical Emissions Over Time. Platform SETAC 2017. Minneapolis, MN.