SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
  21 January 2011
Volume 12 Issue 1

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Use and Application of Databases in Environmental Toxicology
Session Summary from the 2010 SETAC North America Annual Meeting

Adriana C. Bejarano (Research Planning Inc.) and Christine Russom (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Databases and web-based applications containing environmental and aquatic and terrestrial toxicity data play an important role in supporting environmental decision processes. These tools not only provide information to guide scientifically-sound environmental decisions, but also have proven critical in providing data for characterizing adverse ecological effects, assessing hazards, and quantifying species-specific or trophic-guild specific risks. SETAC Portland 2010 provided a venue for an open discussion among scientists from academia, government and industry on the role, challenges, strengths and limitations of databases and their uses in environmental toxicology. Eight plenary presentations, summarized in Table 1, demonstrated the role of databases in risk assessment, as well as the incorporation of modeling approaches to enhance the current capabilities of existing databases.

Common themes among the talks included:

  • The use of species sensitivity distributions as a tool to derive concentrations of concerns, or to compare the relative sensitivity of taxonomically related species to a single chemical
  • The application of probabalistic approaches to address issues related to uncertainty, as well as to address important risk assessment goals under legislation such as Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemical (REACH).
  • The development and compilation of receptor and chemical-specific Toxicity Reference Values and ecological screening levels (ESLs).
  • The interaction of databases with site specific information and geo-referenced data.

Collaborators to this important session included: Christine Russom, Mark F. Miller and Mace G. Barron (U.S. EPA), Deborah French-McCay (Applied Science Associates), Jason Berninger and E. Spencer Williams (Baylor University), Adriana C. Bejarano (Research Planning, Inc.), William J. Rogers (West Texas A&M University), and James Markwiese (Neptune and Company, Inc.).  NOAA’s Emergency Response Division.  U.S.EPA is gratefully acknowledged for their support and contributions to this session.

Authors’ contact information:,

Click here to download: Table 1.: Summary of the eight plenary presentations on the use and application of databases in environmental toxicology. (.pdf file)

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