Importance of environmental and biomass dynamics in predicting chemical exposure in ecological risk assessment

Melissa Morselli, Matteo Semplice, Frederik De Laender, Paul J. Van den Brink, Antonio Di Guardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In ecological risk assessment, exposure is generally modelled assuming static conditions, herewith neglecting the potential role of emission, environmental and biomass dynamics in affecting bioavailable concentrations. In order to investigate the influence of such dynamics on predicted bioavailable concentrations, the spatially-resolved dynamic model "ChimERA fate" was developed, incorporating macrophyte and particulate/dissolved organic carbon (POC/DOC) dynamics into a water-sediment system. An evaluation against three case studies revealed a satisfying model performance. Illustrative simulations then highlighted the potential spatio-temporal variability of bioavailable concentrations after a pulsed emission of four chemicals in a system composed of a pond connected to its inflow and outflow streams. Changes in macrophyte biomass and POC/DOC levels caused exposure variations which were up to a factor of 4.5 in time and even more significant (several orders of magnitude) in space, especially for highly hydrophobic chemicals. ChimERA fate thus revealed to be a useful tool to investigate such variations and to identify those environmental and ecological conditions in which risk is expected to be highest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-345
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


  • Bioavailability
  • ChimERA
  • Dynamic exposure
  • Fate modelling
  • Organic chemical
  • Surface water

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  • Projects

    ChimERA: An integrated modelling tool for ecological risk assessment

    DE LAENDER, F., Janssen, C., Van den Brink, P. J. & Di Guardo, A.


    Project: Research


    • 1 Participation in conference

    setac europe 25th annual meeting

    Frédérik De Laender (Organiser)

    2015 → …

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

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