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Papers & ReportsHome and Personal Care Products, Water/Wastewater Assessments2017

Use of Prospective and retrospective risk assessment methods that simplify chemical mixtures associated with treated domestic wastewater discharges

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A framework is presented that is intended to facilitate the evaluation of potential aquatic ecological risks resulting from discharges of down‐the‐drain chemicals. A scenario is presented using representatives of many of the types of chemicals that are treated domestically. Predicted environmental chemical concentrations are based on reported loading rates and routine removal rates for 3 types of treatment: trickling filter, activated sludge secondary treatment, and activated sludge plus advanced oxidation process as well as instream effluent dilution. In tier I, predicted effluent concentrations were compared with the lowest predicted‐no‐effect concentration (PNEC) obtained from the literature using safety factors as needed. A cumulative risk characterization ratio (cumRCR) < 1.0 indicates that risk is unlikely and no further action is needed. Otherwise, a tier 2 assessment is used, in which PNECs are based on trophic level. If tier 2 indicates a possible risk, then a retrospective assessment is recommended. In tier 1, the cumRCR was > 1.0 for all 3 treatment types in our scenario, even though no chemical exceeded a hazard quotient of 1.0 in activated sludge or advanced oxidation process. In tier 2, activated sludge yielded a lower cumRCR than trickling filter because of higher removal rates, and the cumRCR in the advanced oxidation process was << 1.0. Based on the maximum cumulative risk ratio (MCR), more than one‐third of the predicted risk was accounted for by one chemical, and at least 90% was accounted for by 3 chemicals, indicating that few chemicals influenced the mixture risk in our scenario. We show how a retrospective assessment can test whether certain chemicals hypothesized as potential drivers in the prospective assessment could have, or are having, deleterious effects on aquatic life.

Diamond, J., Altenburger, R., Coors, A., Dyer, S.D., Focazio, M., Kidd, K., Koelmans, A.A., Leung, K.M.Y., Servos, M.R., Snape, J., Tolls, J., Zhang, X. (2017), Use of prospective and retrospective risk assessment methods that simplify chemical mixtures associated with treated domestic wastewater discharges. Environ Toxicol Chem. 37: 690-702. doi.org/10.1002/etc.4013

Papers & ReportsWater/Wastewater Assessments2017

Aquatic exposures of chemical mixtures in urban environments: approaches to impact assessment

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Urban regions of the world are expanding rapidly, placing additional stress on water resources. Urban water bodies serve many purposes, from washing and sources of drinking water to transport and conduits for storm drainage and effluent discharge. These water bodies receive chemical emissions arising from either single or multiple point sources, diffuse sources which can be continuous, intermittent, or seasonal. Thus, aquatic organisms in these water bodies are exposed to temporally and compositionally variable mixtures. We have delineated source‐specific signatures of these mixtures for diffuse urban runoff and urban point source exposure scenarios to support risk assessment and management of these mixtures. The first step in a tiered approach to assessing chemical exposure has been developed based on the event mean concentration concept, with chemical concentrations in runoff defined by volumes of water leaving each surface and the chemical exposure mixture profiles for different urban scenarios. Although generalizations can be made about the chemical composition of urban sources and event mean exposure predictions for initial prioritization, such modeling needs to be complemented with biological monitoring data. It is highly unlikely that the current paradigm of routine regulatory chemical monitoring alone will provide a realistic appraisal of urban aquatic chemical mixture exposures. Future consideration is also needed of the role of nonchemical stressors in such highly modified urban water bodies.

de Zwart, D., Adams, W., Burgos, M.G., Hollender, J., Junghans, M., Merrington, G., Muir, D., Parkerton, T., De Schamphelaere, K.A.C., Whale, G., Williams, R. (2017), Aquatic exposures of chemical mixtures in urban environments: Approaches to impact assessment. Environ Toxicol Chem. 37: 703-714. doi.org/10.1002/etc.3975

Papers & ReportsWater/Wastewater Assessments2017

Prospective mixture risk assessment and management prioritizations for river catchments with diverse land uses

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Ecological risk assessment increasingly focuses on risks from chemical mixtures and multiple stressors because ecosystems are commonly exposed to a plethora of contaminants and nonchemical stressors. To simplify the task of assessing potential mixture effects, we explored 3 land use-related chemical emission scenarios. We applied a tiered methodology to judge the implications of the emissions of chemicals from agricultural practices, domestic discharges, and urban runoff in a quantitative model. The results showed land use-dependent mixture exposures, clearly discriminating downstream effects of land uses, with unique chemical “signatures” regarding composition, concentration, and temporal patterns. Associated risks were characterized in relation to the land‐use scenarios. Comparisons to measured environmental concentrations and predicted impacts showed relatively good similarity. The results suggest that the land uses imply exceedances of regulatory protective environmental quality standards, varying over time in relation to rain events and associated flow and dilution variation. Higher‐tier analyses using ecotoxicological effect criteria confirmed that species assemblages may be affected by exposures exceeding no‐effect levels and that mixture exposure could be associated with predicted species loss under certain situations. The model outcomes can inform various types of prioritization to support risk management, including a ranking across land uses as a whole, a ranking on characteristics of exposure times and frequencies, and various rankings of the relative role of individual chemicals. Though all results are based on in silico assessments, the prospective land use–based approach applied in the present study yields useful insights for simplifying and assessing potential ecological risks of chemical mixtures and can therefore be useful for catchment‐management decisions.

Posthuma, L., Brown, C.D., de Zwart, D., Diamond, J., Dyer, S.D., Holmes, C.M., Marshall, S., Burton Jr., G.A. (2017), Prospective mixture risk assessment and management prioritizations for river catchments with diverse land uses. Environ Toxicol Chem. 37: 715-728. doi.org/10.1002/etc.3960

Papers & ReportsWater/Wastewater Assessments2017

Estimation of U.S. sewer residence time distributions for national-scale risk assessment of down-the-drain chemicals

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Sewer residence time (the amount of time a given volume of wastewater resides in a sewer system prior to treatment) can have a significant influence on predictions of environmental fate and transport of wastewater constituents and corresponding risk assessment. In this study, a geographic information systems-based approach for estimating the distribution of sewer residence times for the U.S. was developed using road networks as a spatial proxy for sewer networks. The suitability of the approach was evaluated using case study municipalities, and the approach was subsequently extrapolated to 3422 wastewater treatment facilities of varying size across the U.S. to estimate a national distribution of sewer residence times. The estimated national median residence time for the U.S. was 3.3 h. Facilities serving smaller municipalities (< 1 million gallons per day) had comparatively shorter sewer residence times to facilities serving larger municipalities, though the latter comprise a greater proportion of overall national wastewater volume. The results of this study provide an important data resource in combination with chemical in-sewer biodegradation data to enable probabilistic risk assessment of consumer product chemicals disposed of down the drain.

Kapo, K.E., Paschka, M., Vamshi, R., Sebasky, M., McDonough, K. (2017), Estimation of U.S. sewer residence time distribution for national-scale risk assessment of down-the-drain chemicals. Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 603-604, 445-452. doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.06.075

Papers & ReportsWater/Wastewater Assessments2016

istreem®: An approach for broad-scale in-stream exposure assessment of “down-the-drain” chemicals

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The “in‐stream exposure model” iSTREEM®, a Web‐based model made freely available to the public by the American Cleaning Institute, provides a means to estimate concentrations of “down‐the‐drain” chemicals in effluent, receiving waters, and drinking water intakes across national and regional scales under mean annual and low‐flow conditions. We provide an overview of the evolution and utility of the iSTREEM model as a screening‐level risk assessment tool relevant for down‐the‐drain products. The spatial nature of the model, integrating point locations of facilities along a hydrologic network, provides a powerful framework to assess environmental exposure and risk in a spatial context. A case study compared national distributions of modeled concentrations of the fragrance 1,3,4,6,7,8‐Hexahydro‐4,6,6,7,8,8,‐hexamethylcyclopenta‐γ‐2‐benzopyran (HHCB) and the insect repellent N,N‐Diethyl‐m‐toluamide (DEET) to available monitoring data at comparable flow conditions. The iSTREEM low‐flow model results yielded a conservative distribution of values, whereas the mean‐flow model results more closely resembled the concentration distribution of monitoring data. We demonstrate how model results can be used to construct a conservative estimation of the distribution of chemical concentrations for effluents and streams leading to the derivation of a predicted environmental concentration (PEC) using the high end of the concentration distribution (e.g., 90th percentile). Data requirements, assumptions, and applications of iSTREEM are discussed in the context of other down‐the‐drain modeling approaches to enhance understanding of comparative advantages and uncertainties for prospective users interested in exposure modeling for ecological risk assessment.

Kapo, K.E., DeLeo, P.C., Vamshi, R., Holmes, C.M., Ferrer, D., Dyer, S.D., Wang, X., White-Hull, C. (2016), iSTREEM®: An approach for broad-scale in-stream exposure assessment of “down-the-drain” chemicals. Integr Environ Assess Manag. 12: 782-792. doi.org/10.1002/ieam.1793

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.